The Office vs The Lab

Updated: Jan 11

It's been enough time and maybe even slightly overdue to reflect back on two amazing experiences that have directly contributed to where I am now. I completed a 10 week lab internship during the summer of my second year of undergrad with my university. The summer after graduation just before my masters I completed another 11 week internship as “ Biology Week” Intern for the Royal Society of Biology. Both experiences were quite different and allowed my to decide what i liked even though neither directly relate to my current masters in medical ultrasound.


Here is what i learnt



Biology Week Intern



  • Do things the best the first time round - i would say this is the most important thing I directly applied to my everyday life. I had to write blog posts and help with many documents for events. The university mentality I had was always to just write what I had in mind and then fine tune later. Weeks of being here taught me to treat my first draft as if it was my final and with this mindset I produced more sound and thought out work.


  • Pushing through to get things done- Working in an office can be quite monotonous - you cant avoid things like sending emails and the mundane tasks. To get through this i just had to get into a IT HAS TO BE DONE mentality to actually complete it. Now applying this to my masters, there are quite a few things i hate doing but having the GET IT DONE gets the task done faster.


  • Your work depending on other people and waiting for approval - i really developed patience and got an understanding of the deeper thought that goes into big organisations. Documents go through many people and working with others means you may have to wait a little before things actually get done an i guess this was the most frustrating aspect of it all.


  • Small talk - You are around people almost every lunch so building up what you want to share is something that was quite interesting. This ties into another point of ensuring your environment is one you feel comfortable in. I don't really beleive any job is worth it if you are basically suffering in all your time away from the desk


  • The range of roles your science degree are applicable to - I specifically worked with the events, communications and outreach teams. The amazing thing about the office is that everyone I came across had some sort of science degree ( Bsc, Msc, Phd) and had either worked in their fields prior or completely switched after graduating. Everyone was genuinely happy to be where they were contributing to a beautiful cause. It taught me you shouldn't pigeon hole yourself early on and to always be open to new careers you are interested in. Science degrees are honestly gold and leave you so many options. Your passions don’t need to be solely science and you can still have loved your degree and move into something completely different. Still currently figuri g out what i like the most and how i can intertwine my passions. There most definately is a way!



Summer Lab


This was a while back so i've added things i also learnt during my 3rd year while i did my lab based dissertation.

  • Independence - it is a quite isolating time and you are solely responsible for the progression of your project on a daily basis. It made me realise how much i liked human interaction and the level i wanted wasn't something the lab could offer me. ,

  • Problem solving / independent thinking - you are left alone in the lab quite a lot and expected to maage your time and be responsible in the things you do. When things don't work you may have to wait some time for help and to combat this you learn how to think a little more and start coming up with possible solutions.

  • Being okay with failure - experiments fail all the time even when you think you did everything perfectly. Constantly trying and something not working really taught me how to not let negative emotions get the best of me. The begining of my " WE MOVE" phase


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  • The wider context of science-"doing" science is more than the thirst for new information, it encompasses the wider global position of science and research, healthcare, education and more. Being in the lab particularly solidified my love for academia. I found myself in a supportive lab environment and although I didn't decide to follow a laboratory path, it highlighted the importance of strong mentorship on enjoying the placement you are in and planning your next steps.




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Lab life series


https://www.thecatalystinme.com/post/lab-life-1-i-m-learning

https://www.thecatalystinme.com/post/lab-life-2-i-want-to-do-a-phd

https://www.thecatalystinme.com/post/lab-life-3-aggression-in-zebrafish



Useful blog posts


Places that offer summer internships

Cv and internships

Getting through application season

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