Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hope runs eternal

Last week, I freaked out. A month of sitting on my ass with nothing to do but take care of a sick kid and wait for others to make decisions was driving me bat shit crazy. I am not good at not having something to do. I start getting depressed. I get anxious and I drive my family insane. I start to question my decisions, whether I am on the right path or not.
Today, I am feeling a bit better. I have followed advice that was given and recontacted some PI's. One PI interviewed me today, the other said sorry no room. The interview went well. She asked why I was leaving and I was honest that chaos was ensuing and I was putting myself first. She seemed excited about my possibilities and is arranging for me to meet the lab on Monday. She was honest that I would have to TA or have my own scholarship, as far she is concerned it is my career so although she has expectations she will not hold my hand. I gave her my analogy of what I think a graduate experience should be:

Throw me the ball and I run with it, when
I'm having difficulties I'll throw it back and we'll play pass the ball.
As apposed to right now where I am having to find the ball in a dark room with a blind fold on.

She liked my analogy.

Pros

If I move into her lab, I will lose my scholarship because she (unlike the first PI I interviewed with and currentPI, she is not comfortable keeping me on a scholarship that is not being used for what it was granted. (To me, this shows integrity)
She demands high quality work
If she thinks your slacking, she will ask for weekly meetings but otherwise it upto you to determine what you need (not a micromanager)
She believes in teamwork and guidance. Some students are looking to finish so she would like overlap
Already trying to determine timelines and needs
Has a post-doc on mat leave and is hoping she takes a year

Cons
It will take me awhile to finish if I do not get another scholarship as I will have to TA
I am learning a new field of study
I will be doing a lot of microscopy work, which sometimes drives me nuts.
Her students take 5-6 year so to finish.
I think that is nuts, but not bad if their TAing at the same time.

4 comments:

Amanda said...

I wanted to toss in my own two cents. At least in my field, what you study to get your PhD isn't what you're going to be "stuck" doing for the rest of your life. Most people move on to doing something very different afterwards. The best advice I was given with choosing a mentor was to look for a good match personality/mentor -wise and then look at the science (which should be a bit interesting). I'm glad I followed it when my friends and I compare notes.

But that's my field and you know what they say about free advice (it's only worth what you pay for it).

Anonymous said...

I changed labs in graduate school and although it was traumatic at the time it is now a distant memory. Pick someone who will be a good mentor for you. Make sure you know what you need in a mentor and listen carefully to what the other people in the lab say or don't say about them.

Melanie said...

You know my opinion - that particular PI is woooonderful. My friend from her lab never once complained about her that I can remember. Other stuff, sure, but not her. I also am quite fond of and impressed by one of the research associates in the lab (the other I don't know), who is also responsible for opening my eyes to the possibilities of going with midwives. Very family-friendly lab. There are stories of tots in backpacks in the lab, and pack-n-plays in the office! Also, that supervisor goes to bat for her students, and even her former students. My friend still calls her for advice.

TAing isn't so bad. And maybe you could get a new scholarship? If you do wind up in that lab, though, and needing to TA, I've got some thoughts on courses - what NOT to TA and what to fight like hell to TA.

Nicky said...

I agree with Amanda -- what you focus on now doesn't have to be what you do for a career afterwards. If you can see yourself doing it for the next few years, and the PI is a good mentor, you should be set.

Also, you list as a con that most students take 5-6 years. What's normal in your field? 5-6 is normal (even a little ambitious) in my field....