I’ve been lucky enough to start a PostDoctoral position at MIT. It’s been over a month. And it’s been rough.
The reason why it’s been rough is not because MIT is a bad environment — albeit hanging around with top scientists is definitely intimidating. It’s not even because of the huge amount of snow that’s been falling on Boston — I thought my Montreal cold days were over… The reason why it’s been rough is that I’ve entered a new area of research (online optimization), I’ve had a lot to read and learn about, and I wanted to do it well. So I’ve worked hard. Very hard.
What was both intimidating and exciting is that the field of online optimization is exploding. Within the last two years (if not the last six months), many ground-breaking papers have come out, with surprising results and hugely technical proofs. It’s intimidating, because it was hard for me to imagine that I’d be able to contribute even a iota to the wonderful results that have already been proved. But it’s exciting, because it also means that many important questions have not been answered yet, and that there’s a greater chance that the contributions I’ll make will have a significant impact. That’s what you want, isn’t it?
In any case, those were ideal conditions to compel me to work hard. And I did. I’m glad I did. After all, that’s why I’m here.