I’m currently just over a quarter of the way through my summer work placement at the department of infection, immunity and cardiovascular disease at the Royal Hallamshire hospital. Although i’ve only been in the lab for 7 days, it’s already been such an eye opener and I thought i’d share what i’ve discovered with you guys!
Earning respect in a lab is hard. Earning respect as an undergrad in a lab, a whole different ball game. It’s honestly really difficult to find your place in a lab when you’re the most unqualified person there. Superiors easily look down on you, which is disheartening because we all have to start somewhere, and everyones an undergrad at some point…
The wage gap in a lab is astounding, especially between people doing the same job. Two people doing PhD’s in the same lab, one can be earning twice the wage of the other? Where’s the sense in that? IT’S LITERALLY THE SAME JOB. Learning this was definitely an eye opener, and has made me realise there’s no rush for me to get into a PhD. It’s such a commitment and there are so many variables, that I want to make sure I find the perfect one or me.
You have to want it. Labs are lonely, and quiet and there’s a heck of a lot of waiting around… (especially with western blots, YAWNNN). But as cringey as it sounds, you get out what you put in. Some people are there from 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday plus weekends and their reaping the rewards. Dedication is key with post grad study, you’ve just gotta be prepare to give it your all if you want to have the career you’re dreaming of.
Working 9-5 is bloody difficult when a lot of it is spent in silence, hunch over a bench pipetting or writing up protocols. Coffee = a scientists BFF.
Whenever i’m in uni practicals I always shy away from the hard stuff, because I think I’m going to suck at it. This week has taught me most importantly, that i’m actually fucking good at science. It’s been a massive confidence boost to have people invest their time in helping me and for my data to come out the way it actually should..Plus i’ve been interacting with a bunch of people i’ve never met before, so I guess you could say i’m getting braver to!
If you’re thinking of doing any kind of work experience I recommend it 1000%. There’s so much you don’t learn in a lab or a lecture or from a conversation with your tutor. I think if you want to work in science it’s so important to go out and see what it’s like because it’s definitely not for everyone.
Check back this time next week to see what i’ve learnt as I reach the half way stage of my time in the lab!