Jane HalpernI am the Communications Officer for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Jane Halpern joined MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in August 2020. At the time, the Institute was gearing up for the arrival of thousands of students on campus amid an ongoing pandemic — the first time MIT students had been on campus since the previous spring. Due to COVID-19, Halpern worked remotely for the first year and a half in her role, which means she had to cultivate relationships with colleagues virtually, all while managing communications for the Institute’s largest academic department. (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science accounts for about 40 percent of MIT’s undergraduates.)
The size of Halpern’s department means she’s often balancing numerous priorities: creating marketing materials for events, compiling annual reports, running the department’s social media pages, and even writing obituaries. “There really is no one typical week as a communications officer,” Halpern said. “Instead, there are dozens and dozens of plates to spin and priorities to juggle.”
Prior to working at MIT, Halpern worked in alumni communications and resource development at MCPHS University (formerly known as Massachusetts College of Pharmacy), the oldest college in Boston. But a previous temp stint at MIT Libraries encouraged her to keep an eye out for openings across the river. She says she’s constantly inspired by her colleagues at the Institute.
“Everyone here is here because they are not only incredibly intelligent and adventurous people, but they have a lot going on themselves. Ask any administrative assistant, financial administrator, or computing technician—ask anyone with a generic-sounding title that doesn’t tell you much—how they got here and you’re going to get an incredible story,” said Halpern. “Everyone here is fascinating and intellectually curious on multiple levels.” Among the ranks of MIT staff, Halpern has met a mixed-media artist who works with trash, found objects, and glitter; a LEGO expert; and multiple master embroiderers, painters, and gardeners. Outside work, she spends her time quilting; writing movie reviews, romance, and fan fiction; and practicing yoga.
“I wouldn’t say I’m an expert at it,” Halpern laughs. “More like a horribly, horribly ungraceful amateur. Thank God for YouTube, where we can all do yoga where no one is watching.”