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Comment: Let's see, I've been here... (Score 1) 200

by MacBorg (#23151184) Attached to: What is the First Day in a University Lab Like?
Ok, I'm just about to graduate undergrad (ack! in less than a month) and have been working in research labs since I was 15. I started out as basically bumblefuck the summer intern doing weird self-taught interface stuff... stayed in that lab all through high school (did lots of weird and cool stuff - this was MIT Media, so weird is an understatment). Since 2005, I've been an undergrad researcher (UROP) in a lab at BU's Med Campus... and I'll be an RA in a month and a half (at Vandy). So, basic wisdom, gleaned from years of being a lab denizen: 1. You have to sit training and you will be bored shitless. Sign the sheet, try not to fall asleep and drool on your shirt. 2. When you first come in, you are the lowest thing on the totem pole - you will get any/all scut work that anyone thinks you can handle. If you worked for me, that would mean you're doing the annoying electronics crap that I've long since gotten bored with. 3. People don't mind questions - they do mind when you don't learn. Basically, ignorance is curable (and we don't mind curing it), but willful stupidity is fatal. 4. Ask PIs and everyone else in the lab for reading material - what should you know that everyone else will assume that you do. Also, ask which mailing lists you should get on (everything is email these days, so it isn't as though this costs money). 5. If you break something, own up immediately (same thing goes if you relocate something) - if you go off and relocate a component of my testing arena or the subject records, your life will become interesting in ways which you will not enjoy. 6. Try to get along with people. If you need to bitch about something - fine, we're human too. After you're done, go and get it done [your work, that is]. If all you do is bitch, the lab will hate you. And talk about you years after the fact. 7. If, in a few years, you wind up writing papers, try to do it with people who are around regularly (trying to collaborate with your boss who fucks off to random places and is really bad about email on a good day is not fun [yes, i'm speaking from personal experience here]). Along this same vein, pull journal requirements early. 8. Email voice rarely corresponds to normal voice - certain people are much more offensive over lab email. Try not to take too much offence. 9. The non-research bureaucrats are a perpetual bane. Basically, try not to deal with them as much as you can (you'll be saner). However, make good friends with your lab admin (if you have one) - he/she has a crapload of power and can generally get stuff sorted out much more easily. 10. If you do human or animal work, DO NOT annoy your IRB or IACUC. The penalties, both immediate and long term for you and your lab are immense. Basically, treat them like the high priests of a cthonic deity - you really don't want to get eaten, do you? That's it for now

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