Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Taking Over From the Bottom Rung

Ok, so lately I feel like I am falling back into the same pattern I've been in every lab I've worked in so far. I'm one of those people, I hate running out of stuff. I hate it when stuff breaks. I really do think that productivity comes directly from not having to worry about the stupid little shit, so you can direct your brain cells to bigger problems.

So I am always the one ordering things, the one autoclaving tips... even though it's not my job, and just because we ran out.

So far, no one has ever given me any kind of award for this type of behavior, but I try to think it has its own rewards, which is to say, it helps me. And I'm not the kind of person who is going to hoard disposables just so I don't have to tell anyone we ran out. I hate seeing other people go through the same irritation I've been through, it's just a waste of everybody's energy.

But, it's not my job, and it's not my lab, and I resent having to do it and never getting any credit (and by that I mean, more salary or specific mention of my incredibly hardworking and conscientious nature in my recommendation letters). Sometimes I pretend it's my lab, or that it's good practice for having my own lab. And some days, like today, I go to a crappy seminar and come out afterwards thinking, not only will I never get a job, but I'm not sure I want these people as my life-long colleagues anyway.



At 9:33 PM, Anonymous BWJones said...

OK, so this is part of the problem, right? Honestly, this sounds a little co-dependent, and what you should really be doing at this point is making it your job to find a job. I know you know this and I am sorry. I am sure that you also know that the job of a post-doc is to not only work in the lab for the PI, but also to establish their own career path and demonstrate independence. It can be possible under certain circumstances to continue on in your lab after a post-doc if the place you are at can give you a faculty position. Most of the time however, it is expected that the post-doc will move on. So, unless the PI has an agreement with you to perform these functions, they should have the ability to run their lab independently of you. If your current PI cannot or will not 1) hire appropriate staff to run their lab and/or 2) cannot or will not perform these functions themselves, then it is not your problem.

Like I said in my previous comment in your previous post, most labs/people will take whatever it is that you will give them without appropriately compensating you unless you are willing to establish your own limits. Many folks in science are CHEAP and will not appropriately compensate folks for what they are worth. If you are not going to stand up for yourself, then you are forever doomed to repeat your current situation. You say that you resent having to do this stuff, but the reality is that you do not *have* to do it.

The thing you have to do it learn that taking care of yourself does not necessarily mean you are a mean or bad person, or indeed are necessarily being a selfish person. Very few people are going to have the integrity to stand up for someone else and assist them with their career, whether that person is a post-doc or other faculty. It is not because they are being malicious though. Rather it is simply easier to let the other person continue on with the behavior that is benefitting your PI.

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

take a lesson from dude scientists -- never, ever do someone else's scutwork. you're too good for it. hoard everything you've ever autoclaved. keep your amp plates hidden at the back of a shelf where no one else can touch them until they've got eight kinds of mold on them.

seriously. it's good to run a tight ship for yourself. but don't do it for other people. just stop doing it. you'll be amazed at all the new time you have for your own experiments.

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand your frustration!
When I was in the lab, we had our own pipette tip boxes, that we were responsible for filling. If you ran out, tough cookies - you had to fill some more, then organise an autoclave run - unless you could convince somone to lend you a box, which you had to refill for them and autoclave, and return ASAP. This also applied to microfuge tubes. We also kept our own media plates. However, because we were responsible for our own items, we were more 'friendly' and 'caring' in the lab - we often borrowed each others consumables.
We did the same with our solutions. It might be worth bringing it up at a lab meeting....and having a suggeston as to how you would *like* things to work in the 2 cents...

At 10:09 PM, Blogger ScienceGeek said...

Oh I hear you on other people not pulling their weight around the lab. There is a certain someone in the lab I'm in who leaves all her dishes in the sink and when the sink is full she puts only her dishes through the dishwasher. Why doesn't she put them on the dirty dishes cart with everyone else's dishes? Heaven forbid if she ends up washing one beaker that isn't hers. I've accepted that if she doesn't want to help out with the general maintenance of the lab then fine but don't fill up a sink that other people need with all your crap. She has been told numerous times to pull her weight around the lab but she doesn't believe the law of the lab applies to her.


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