Three weeks in!Posted: 23 October 2011
I didn’t know a better title. It’s been a wonderful experience so far. No, not everything is perfect but I am finally getting to know what research is like when you do it full time – and that was the goal of this internship! I’ve still got five months to go so I hope I can keep this excitement alive…
What I like:
1) They are leaving me alone to work with extremely expensive equipment / dangerous chemicals. Of course, they are always available to help and they made sure I got good instructions – but I like it that they trust me (even though I’m not scientifically trained).
2) The serenity of lab work. It’s quite Zen like when you need to make an enzyme mix for 10 eppendorf tubes. Actually, I get so caught up in the work that easy things like that can take me an hour. (sorry!). I do try to speed it up but then I forget things like adding the DNA…
3) The fact that we’re really on top of things. During literature meetings, the impact on our research is discussed and sometimes they set out an entirely new course based on just one article.
What I don’t like:
1) My own mistakes. I lost an entire week because I apparently did something wrong in one of the first and fundamental steps. No one holds it against me, but it is very frustrating when something like that happens.
2) My lack of reasoning abilities in these matters. For instance, how to judge when a gel is finished. My supervisor usually say something like ‘just let it run until the first band reaches 2/3 of the gel’. But WHY?! I finally found out myself but it’s quite annoying when you have to blindly trust them without knowing the reasons behind it.
3) Sometimes things go wrong even though it’s not your mistake. I wouldn’t be able to do this for a living. I know it’s not important whether my project yields results, but it’s just a limited amount of time. Some people have worked there for YEARS and of course there are periods in which nothing happens. How can you keep motivated when everything fails? (for instance, they tried to work with a new strain of the particular bacteria and it just wouldn’t stay alive no matter what they did.)
4) The interpersonal relationships are just like high school. Lots of gossip etc. etc. I heard from friends/relatives that ‘the workplace’ is always like that, but it’s still a bit of a disappointment.