The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Recognizing the Rockefeller Center's Student Program Assistants: Alexandros Sotirios Zervos '16

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In this series, the Rockefeller Center features our Student Program Assistants, student staff who contribute significantly to the success of the Center’s events, programs, and activities.

What happens when government and astronomy collide? The Rockefeller Center gets a Student Program Assistant like Government and Astronomy double major Alexandros Sotirios Zervos '16. Alexandros initially applied to work at the Rockefeller Center because it was one of "the only places on campus that had programs that formally dealt with government experience." So he jumped into programs like MLDP, RGLP, VoxMasters, PoliTALK, and Public Lectures. From there Alexandros first began working at the Center as a Student Program Assistant for Public Programs. He currently serves the Student Program Assistant for Student Workshops.

Student Program Assistant Alexandros Zervos '16. Photo by Thanh V. Nguyen.

Each term, the Rockefeller Center hosts workshops open to all students on topics ranging from public speaking and project management to formal dining etiquette, fundraising, event planning, and Excel training. In his position, Alexandros helps promote these student workshop offerings via email, social media, and surveys. He also works on logistics such as inviting the speakers who come to the Center to talk about various elements of professionalism. Program Officer Vincent Mack states, "I would imagine the same intensity in which Alexandros approaches his work in the classroom he brings to his job responsibilities and tasks. Alexandros is very creative, dependable and not afraid to ask questions for further clarification or to probe at the root cause of issues."

“Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations, Fermi Problems Workshop” with postdoc Dr. Kevin Hainline from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Photo by Abigail Chen '17.

So how has Alexandros combined his fields of student with working at the Rockefeller Center? By creating a new workshop. While taking a Dartmouth Astronomy class, Alexandros was intrigued by the concept of Fermi Problems and began pondering how he could apply this to his work at the Center. Learning how to solve Fermi Problems teaches dimensional analysis, approximation, and the importance of clearly identifying assumptions. Alexandros particularly liked that Fermi Problems were based on trick questions such as how many gas stations are in the US or how many footsteps it takes to walk across the country. To answer these questions, one must take the few facts they know and apply them. These types of questions and the skills associated with them, Alexandros realized, are essential for interviewing, particularly with case interviews. So he started investigating how he might pull together a student workshop on this topic at the Center. As his supervisor Vincent Mack remarked, "Alexandros is the type of student you desire to give important complex problems to, knowing he will provide well thought through and innovative solutions that reflects not only his dedication, but also his ability to think critically and creatively." On March 2, 2015, the Rockefeller Center hosted "Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations, Fermi Problems Workshop" with Dartmouth postdoc Dr. Kevin Hainline from the Department of Physics and Astronomy as the facilitator. The workshop was a great success and well attended. One thing Alexandros wants other students to know is, "there are a lot of opportunities once you figure out what works well with your interests and what doesn’t. Everyone’s going to have their own experience at Rocky." Alexandros is truly making his own experience at the Rockefeller Center as he combines his passion for astronomy with his passion for government.

-Written by Crandalyn Jackson '15, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant

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