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Too School for Cool
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just been offered a job as a laboratory assistant in a professors research lab at my university. The position was advertised in my lecture, I applied, and got an interview. I will be on the bottom rung of the ladder, completing dull tasks none of the actual researchers want to do, basically. But I'll have a labcoat.

I've posted my progress on SAS on a long term challenge before, and really liked it. So I'm going to try it for this as well.

Elise's Goal: Keep this job all summer. Do not let job-related anxiety stop me from showing up, completing a task, talking to a coworker, or cause me stress when I am outside the lab.

Some of the hurdles I need to overcome to reach my goal:

1. I'm a newbie: I'm awful at being a newbie at anything. The first time I do anything, I suck. I'm terrified of looking like an idiot and being yelled at so soon. I ask eight thousand questions on the same topic so I'm 100% sure I'm not doing the wrong thing. This generally makes the people around me want to kill me. The massive anxiety I have about that first week on the job where you are totally clueless has stopped me from working for two years.

2. It's a lab: I have a taken chem lab classes before, and have hated them. The working out in the open, the chance of looking stupid in front of everyone, and the chance that one mistake can ruin hours of work really really bothers me.

3. I know no one: Not a soul in the lab, and they are all fancy grad students and I am but a lowly undergraduate inhaling too much of their air.

4. I have to poke needles and scalpels in frogs: And that's just gross.

I start as soon as possible. I'm nervous as hell, but I'm really going to try to focus on keeping my anxiety under control this summer so I can do this. Keeping my worries from invading other aspects of my life will be tough, as I worry about 1 hour of work for the 20 hours around it and burn myself out. I've never held down a paying job before. I think just managing to finish this, just showing up and hopefully not burning down the lab, would give me a big boost of confidence. I think.
 

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Protector of the Den
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Congratulations on getting the job :) Even if you are on the bottom rung, at least you'll get experience.

I'm terrified of looking like an idiot and being yelled at so soon. I ask eight thousand questions on the same topic so I'm 100% sure I'm not doing the wrong thing. This generally makes the people around me want to kill me.
I do the same thing. My supervisor has been very understanding. I'm sure it gets annoying, but he probably would rather have me ask than assume and make mistakes.

Good luck with your summer job!
 

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Too School for Cool
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks sly!

So far I've had my orientation, and I already know that I'm going to need pretty much everything repeated to me multiple times. I don't do well in new environments and keep forgetting things. I've had one shift and just pretty much watched everyone. The frog stuff is actually super cool, not gross.

I did have one faux pas moment where I tried to help by carrying something, but they were all like "uh, just put that down thanks. You just watch". I felt really stupid. But I'm still okay, I think.

I haven't introduced myself to anyone yet. Everyone looks super busy and no one is you know, coming up to the new girl and saying hi. I don't want to bother them so it's hard to find a moment to step in and say hi.
 

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crazy
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Elise's Goal: Keep this job all summer. Do not let job-related anxiety stop me from showing up, completing a task, talking to a coworker, or cause me stress when I am outside the lab.

I start as soon as possible. I'm nervous as hell, but I'm really going to try to focus on keeping my anxiety under control this summer so I can do this. Keeping my worries from invading other aspects of my life will be tough, as I worry about 1 hour of work for the 20 hours around it and burn myself out. I've never held down a paying job before. I think just managing to finish this, just showing up and hopefully not burning down the lab, would give me a big boost of confidence. I think.
Hey, this is great! :clap

One thing I found helpful when I was trying to keep anxiety from interfering with a really important semester was to keep a list of risks and mitigations. It's from project management. Like what are the things that could go wrong, and what are some things you can do to help prevent them from happening. So I had stuff like

depression draining motivation to keep up with homework, causing escalating problems.
/ exercise
/ stay busy, think less!
/ get sunlight
/ get enough sleep

I had one page filled with these things, and I tried to look at it every day. It really helped - I wound up getting all A's that semester, which had like 5 tough classes, whereas normally I'd fall behind due to anxiety, depression, procrastination, avoiding classes, etc.

Anyway, good luck with your job - sounds like a great start!
 

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Too School for Cool
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks so much lostpancake!

Keeping a list sounds like a good idea. I think I'm trying to accomplish the same kindof thing by keeping this thread. I definitely keep it a goal to get enough sleep, I think that really helps me.

Congrats on such a successful semester. It's inspiring!
 

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I have just been offered a job as a laboratory assistant in a professors research lab at my university. The position was advertised in my lecture, I applied, and got an interview. I will be on the bottom rung of the ladder, completing dull tasks none of the actual researchers want to do, basically. But I'll have a labcoat.....
Graaaawwwwrrrrr!! Don't get me started on my thing for chicks in lab coats.. :D :yes. Just the lab coat alone is worth it Elise. Will they let you keep it afterwards? :no

Umm but seriously, thats great news, especially if you find jabbing dead frogs cool (which I would). I don't know about frogs but I do know from experience rats stink - I had to do a dissection for one of my courses.

Having started a new job myself I am going through the 'the incompetent new guy' stage.

My two cents: Even if you don't have an opportunity to do a proper introduction, at least be generous with the 'hi's whenever you pass someone. Unless they are absolute stuck up *******s they should respond..eventually. And try and remember their names (at my place all our overalls have our names on the front which is a lifesaver, unless they've faded off :blank).

Try not to get involved in any internal politics that go on (and they seemed to go on even in really small labs). Don't align yourself too strongly with any one person (at least until you've settled into your job and know a bit about the social environment), because then people start to associate that person's reputation/negative attributes to you. Don't trust people too much, because even if someone is all happy smiley on the outside they may be giving a different report of you behind your back. As you may be able to infer I'm a pessimist :).

And getting in about 10mins before your start time and running through what you need to do also helps, like find out where the materials you may need are and whether you are running low on anything you may need - if this is applicable to your job.
 

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Too School for Cool
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Graaaawwwwrrrrr!! Don't get me started on my thing for chicks in lab coats.. :D :yes. Just the lab coat alone is worth it Elise. Will they let you keep it afterwards? :no
Haha! I've heard of a thing for chicks in knee socks, chicks in uniforms, but NEVER chicks in labcoats. That's definitely a new one.

Thanks for your input, and it's good to know I have some support in the "incompetent new guy stage". It's tough. So far it's been okay for me though, which is good. I'm still incompetent, but I'm getting a lot more training than my previous jobs and there is always someone around in the lab to ask if I get confused.

I haven't seen any internal lab politics yet. Everyone so far seems nice, but yes, I'm aware they are probably be there somewhere. I'll keep an eye out.

The frogs aren't dead, they are actually alive and under anesthesia. It's my job the create the anesthetic solution, put the frogs under, cut them open through the skin and the muscle, remove the eggs for the lab experiments, sew the frogs back up and revive them. It's actually SUPER COOL. I totally love it.

How are you dealing with the new guy stage at your new job?
 

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The first 2 weeks were great,; despite my incompetence everyone knew I was the new guy and I was allowed to be as slow as I needed to be. Third week, the workload for our section increased and on top of that my supervisor was annoyed with the other two people in our section. Add my incredible slowness to it and he got really annoyed with me and everyone else. Made working with him hard (swearing, muttering, speaking about me just out of earshot to other people, giving me menial jobs etc. Put it a lot more effort the next day (which to be honest meant speeding things up at the cost of being perfect). He was impressed and even said I did good. Things have been better since :).
 
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