Are you looking for answers from the right people?

I remember during my first post-doc I shared a lab space with a post-doc from another lab. She started several months after me so I was already familiar with her lab mates by the time she joined. She had to run a particular protocol which was very complex and it just so happened that there was an undergraduate in the lab that had worked exclusively on this protocol as a summer student. I told her she was lucky because this boy was a whiz and would be able to walk her through the whole protocol step by step.

Much to the surprise of all of us in the shared lab space this new post-doc refused to ask the undergraduate for help. He even offered several times but she always refused. Needless to say I was completely mystified so when the opportunity came up for me to ask when the two of us were alone in the lab one day, I did. She didn’t hesitate for a minute in her answer – “I’m a post-doc how would it look if an undergrad helped me”. To this day that answer does not make sense to me. Part of going through grad school is learning how to run experiments on your own and getting the information you need from the most reliable sources. If that source is the lab technician, the undergraduate or another post-doc it doesn’t really matter just make sure you learn what you need to from the people that have the experience.

Learn from the post-doc trapped in hierarchy – if you are wondering about efficiency in the flow of work around the office or what tweaks should be considered to increase billings/collections ask those at all levels of the process. You may be surprised at who has the answer.

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