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Independent Project Blues

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.

An independent project typically means moving from assisting your mentor with her experiments, to becoming the "Student PI" of your own. And sometimes when the research inexplicably stops working, the frustration kicks in: "Why did everything seem so easy when I was assisting on a project, I'm practically doing the same techniques?” and “Why is this happening to me? What is wrong with me?! ARRRRRRGGGGGGG!!!”

Don't let frustration and self-doubt take over if you don't have immediate success on an independent project. Believe it or not, your mentor had a learning curve on her first independent project too--you just weren't around to see it. So, hang in there, and know that you would not have on an independent project if you weren't ready for it.

Trust me, even if you don't have enough faith that you can do it, it's okay--your mentor has enough for both of you.