Tip #3 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Frustration

Being in the lab five days a week for several hours each day will certainly help you meet your research objectives faster than during the semester. However, at some point your project will likely hit a wall. You might need solve a technical error, be stuck trying to optimize a fickle procedure, or need to dig deeper into the scientific literature and reconsider your strategy.

Taking The Leap

When I was new to research, one of the most frustrating things my mentor would say was, "Choose whichever works."

I often tell my students that two scientists in a lab lead to three (or more) potential strategies on how to tackle a research question. In the beginning of your research experience, your mentor will tell you which approach to take.

At some point, she will expect you to weigh the options and choose a strategy to follow. You might not pick the right one the first time, but it’s important that you don’t let that possibility stop you from taking the leap.

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.

— from the Researcher's bench.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. — Winston Churchill