new to lab

New Beginnings

No matter what STEM experience you're part of, the start of a research project is as exciting as it is awkward--and sometimes nerve wracking. If you start feeling a little overwhelmed, read the whiteboard above a couple of times for an insider's perspective.

Independent Project Blues

Even if you've been working in the lab for a while, when you start a new project there will be unexpected glitches and hiccups--especially in the beginning.

When starting independent project it can be especially frustrating. For many undergrads (and new grad students), the beginning of an independent project is both a badge of honor, and a badge of shame.

That Chore You Hate? Chances are Your Labmates Feel the Same Way.

Some research work isn't exciting. Racking pipette tips, autoclaving waste, making media, or washing dishes definitely fit in this category.

However, if you try to think of your research-related chores as "community service" that helps everyone in the lab, it might be its easier to find the motivation to get them done. Also, your willingness to help out and do a good job, even on the boring tasks, will be recognized as solid teamwork by your labmates. This matters to your success in the lab more than you can possibly imagine.

Handling the F-word (Failure)

When you start a project in a research lab you’re bound to have a few hiccups at the research bench. Mistakes are an unavoidable part of learning something new or acquiring new skills. However, also keep in mind that how you react to failure will tell your labmates how easy you'll be to work with in the long run.

Your labmates will be much more willing to help you fix a problem or prevent one in the future if you stay positive. It's okay to be disappointed when something goes wrong --just develop a strategy to stay positive and be resilient.

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