Physics & Astronomy PhD
What initially interested you about participating in 3MT?
I’ve always liked reading and writing as much as I liked math and science, so I knew I’d want a job which combined communication as well as the technical aspects of research. Participating in the 3MT competition felt like a good way to demonstrate my crossover interest to potential employers, and after participating, I was much better equipped to explain my research to people outside of my lab group. It also seemed fun- I’m very competitive, and it’s a short enough presentation that you don’t have to spend a huge amount of time preparing slides.
What value did participating in 3MT add to your graduate career?
When I saw the email notice advertising the 3MT, I was at a point in my PhD where I had lost interest in my research, and I was getting bogged down in the tedious day-to-day lab tasks. Having to look at the big picture of my research and talk about it with people outside of my field reminded me why I took on this research project in the first place. And it was a good reminder to myself that I had accomplished a lot in lab, even if it didn’t always feel like I had.
What would you tell others about the experience?
Every PhD student can benefit from participating in the 3MT competition for three reasons: 1) it improves your understanding of your research, 2) it improves your communication skills, and 3) it will have concrete benefits when applying for jobs. It’s easy to forget how much technical jargon we use to explain simple concepts. Having to ditch the technical phrases I had been parroting for years meant having to think about the basic physics concepts of my project in a way that I hadn’t before. It’s essential for any researcher to be able to communicate effectively with people from all backgrounds, so learning how to be concise and clear without generalizing is incredibly important. And, I now feel that I have an excellent, ready-made explanation of my research to give in job interviews.
Watch Jessica’s 2018 3MT presentation here: https://vimeo.com/301089001