Gonzalo Rodrigo was a graduate student in the final year of his Ph.D. in computer science at Umea University in Sweden when he signed up to be a student volunteer at SC15 as a member of the SCinet team. SCinet designs, builds and operates the high-speed network supporting all aspects of the conference, from wireless everywhere to network drops on the show floor.
As a participant in the Students@SC Program, Rodrigo also signed up for the SC15 Mentor-Protégé Program. It was his first year at SC and he felt he could use some additional perspectives on the opportunities that might exist for him when he finished his Ph.D. In graduate school, he was researching scheduling workflows for high performance clusters and supercomputers. While working on his Ph.D. he spent time at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researching networking. He also previously worked in industry on fiber network equipment development.
Rodrigo chose Alexandru Iosup, an Associate Professor in Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technische Universiteit Delft, from a list of mentors. He was familiar with Iosup’s related research in the Netherlands and already knew him, as Iosup had attended cloud scheduling workshops organized by Rodrigo’s research group. Although they previously met in a different environment, at the SC15 Mentor-Protégé Mixer, Rodrigo’s questions for Iosup were more about advice on different aspects of graduate studies, strategies, career opportunities in the U.S. versus Europe, teaching versus pure research, etc. He felt Iosup had a good take on the different infrastructures of the U.S. and Europe – how funding is defined and what are the differences in problems being solved. Rodrigo was interested in this dual perspective since he is from Spain and has worked in the U.S. He says he has “one leg in Europe and one in the U.S.” He realizes that his career strategy depends on where he wants to end up geographically
Although they didn’t talk a lot about the SC conference, they had good high-level mentoring interactions and continued their mentor-protégé connection via Skype afterwards, talking every month and a half or so. In particular, Rodrigo learned from Iosup about how important his Internet presence is; he needed to build a better profile page, keep his ResearchGate pubs list up to date and make sure copies of his papers are linked from his university. In short, he learned that he needs to make it easier to be noticed in the research community.
Rodrigo’s advice for protégés is that it really helps to make the effort to think about your own situation before meeting your mentor. He offers this advice:
- Be prepared to tell them where in your educational program you are and what information you need. Ask yourself what you want to pursue. Then, ask yourself, “What should I do with my current situation to achieve that goal?”
- If you don’t have goals, ask, “What are my possibilities?” There are so many possibilities that you may not be aware of them all. For example, if you are a master’s student, you may not be aware of all possibilities and mentors can guide you on the type of jobs that are still inside the big box supercomputing research. Also, depending on what country you are in there may be other possibilities elsewhere.
Rodrigo plans to attend SC16 and this year he will do more preparation and research beforehand. He wants to be ready to talk to potential employers, either from the U.S. or Europe, in order to get the most out of those conversations as possible. He credits his strategy as being shaped by the mentoring he received from Iosup via the Mentor-Protégé Program at SC1