Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If it was fun they wouldn't call it work?

As most of my readers know I have been working in a lab since my very first day of college. I had financial aid in the form of work study and during “welcome week” freshman year I set out to find a J-O-B. As an optimistic biology major I answered an ad for a lab assistant (read: dishwasher) in the pathology department at the med school. I LOVED it. I loved washing and sterilizing dishes, autoclaving garbage, making solutions and gels. I loved that when I took my first chem lab, one quarter later, I knew what a stir bar was and how to correctly set a micropipette. As time went on my bosses told me what they were working on and explained to me how a small protein called a peptide was shown to kill bacteria. They showed me how they were able to characterize it using gels and other biochemical techniques. As my course work progressed I started putting the theory together with the practical (ex. the charged residues in the peptide make it run a certain was on RP-HPLC) and did my own research project in that lab.

I was totally hooked. SO much so that I decided I wanted to be a little lab rat and went to graduate school. I ran into some hitches there (mainly I was such a sad panda in CT and felt like a major imposter, these issues need/needed to be addressed but don’t play too deep into this post) but I still loved the idea of using the characteristics of molecules to design experiments.

I got my first job in biotech and here is where I felt like everything clicked. I was pretty good at this crap and a valuable member of the team. I really liked how in an industrial setting the entire team is focused on one goal.

I liked it and I felt good at it.

But, with that VERY LONG preamble, I am so fed up with this industry five years and two companies later. I am so tired of being on the edge of oblivion every six months. I hate that so many decisions are made based on the financial situation rather than the scientific situation. I haven’t figured out how timelines are made for goals which may or may not be possible in nature BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T TRIED THEM EVER BEFORE. I am just a bit tired.

But the thing is, I am also terrified to figure out if I want to do something else. It is what I know. I know how to split my days between the lab bench and my desk. I know that most days, when I get to work I need to take things out of the freezer, thawing is part of my schedule. I don’t really know anything else.

I have considered teaching and even optometry school (my original plan rom way back when). I have wondered whether I should get trained to be a carpet dweller and learn project management. But, honestly, lab work feels like a part of me in a way and…I don’t suck at it. Which makes finding something else seem a bit capricious.

I have no conclusions here. This is the main reason I have been a bot radio silent. I sort of feel lost on my career trajectory and, what is worse, have just shut my eyes and tried to ignore it.

For fun, the video that made me fall in love with molecular biology (central dogma FTW!):

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post is progress. You are sorting it out. WTG!