Why do a phd ?
Three weeks into my internship and a phd is now a very plausible option going further. A month ago, you would have had to do a whole lot of convincing for me to consider pursuing a phd. I already knew it was an amazing path to take but i could never imagine myself in such a role. The reason for this is a combination of assumptions, self doubt and lack of proper exposure to the research environment.
The common cons when thinking about doing a phd is the repetitiveness of the tasks or the very lonely nature of the job.
I have encountered both.
Lab life is quite isolating but a bonus to this is that you are in absolute control of your own time and the way your day goes. You do need to be very organised and self motivated to do what may seem as tediously repetitive tasks.
For example my main project over the next two months involves using a chromatography machine that collects the data i need. . My typical day involves
Thawing out the samples ( about 5 mins)
Unloading the samples from the previous day ( 2 mins, so i do this while my samples are thawing)
Loading the samples onto the machine ( 10-15 mins ) this includes setting up the correct data file so my recordings come off correctly and setting up the machine to go
Record the data from the previous day so i don’t get a backlog of recordings and i can spot any problems quickly.
Recording the data may take up to 30mins, so the whole process for setting up the experiment takes about an hour after which i leave the machine to do its stuff for about 3-4 hours.
Now the wait starts - This is where lab work can be a bit strange, what do i do for 4 hours?
In this time i can have lunch, set up another experiment or help with any other tasks that need to be done. This time is also used to read articles and further familiarise yourself with your project and work. I also use this time to plan my blog posts so when i get home its a stress-free zone.Your multitasking queen lol
Doing lab work from what i have witnessed you have very little personal interaction with people.Your interaction may only be with your supervisor, in lab meetings or maybe departmental talks. If you are a social person this may not be for you.
On the flip side the beauty of lab work is seeing a whole project through, imagine with only three weeks experience, everyday in the lab thus far has brought me joy and knowing the work i am doing is going to contribute to a bigger picture.
Lab work is a little like completing a massive jigsaw puzzle. You start in small sections with the most obvious pieces and slowly but surely you begin to link in other pieces whether big or small. The end result is this amazing picture ( new information) bringing you that tiny step closer to the problem you are trying to solve.