Hey, sorry I’ve been MIA for a little while. I’ve started my third (and final, unless something really unfortunate happens) rotation and have had a lot of thoughts about what I enjoy about research and what I need in a PI/mentor/boss/lab environment, exactly none of which I have been able to put into a solid idea for a blog post.
Also rotations are sort of like the early stages of dating, except with a really pressing and Big Life Decision edge. You’re simultaneously trying to make sure you’re making the best impression (because there might be several students who all want to be in your favorite lab, and there’s only one spot), but you’re also trying to feel out whether the lab is what you’re looking for. This also involves a lot of gossip, which I find super awkward, but which is absolutely necessary. You have to ask people their least favorite things about the lab or the PI or the research. And that’s always an awkward thing to ask. Especially since I tend to make decisions based on the bad. I can pretty quickly figure out what I like, but figuring out potential problems (preferably before you’ve made a 5 year commitment) is harder in just 4 weeks.
And then you leave the rotation with a sort of, “This was great! Maybe I’ll see you almost every day for the next 5 years, or maybe not!” It’s doubly sad because I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with all of my labmates during rotations (other grad students, post docs, lab techs), and I’m worried that no matter which lab I join, I might end up very rarely seeing people in the other lab. Though I now do trivia every week with one lab, so that’s really great (and we actually won second place this week!!!). And while yes, the research and the PI are incredibly important in choosing a lab, the people you work with make some of the biggest impacts on day-to-day enjoyment and fulfillment. They’re the ones who will go get drinks with you [if you’re under 21, change that to soda/ice cream] when you have the inevitable setback. They’re the ones who will teach you how to do the new technique you’ve never done. They’re the ones who will motivate you to show up to lab when it’s -20 degrees out because you definitely have to talk to them about last night’s episode of whatever because it was AMAZING.
So today’s post has been very rambly, but those are at least 20% of my thoughts related to rotations recently.