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About CavityQED

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    2017 Fall

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  1. I understand that the experiences described above are typical for some biology labs and personal experiences may differ but I just wanted to add my 2 cents. When I started out doing research it was very different. I started in a lab that was just starting and thus got started on the ground floor. My grad student mentor spent 3 hours with me a night running through basic techniques and explaining the experiments and did everything with me side-by-side so that we could be both productive and he could monitor my skills. This went on for about a month until he trusted me completely and started giving me a list of tasks to accomplish on my own time instead of having to supervise. And it took another few months before I started developing my own experiments. I will say that I had the lucky pleasure of being paired up with a grad student that really cared and purposely told me that he wanted me to learn. What I mean to say from this is that there is always grunt work to be done. I put out the trash, scrubbed tabletops, etc. but depending on the culture of the lab everyone may do their part or they may have one designated person to do it (perhaps like in your case). For us, the lab started small and the first couple of grad students were pretty conscious about creating a good lab culture so even as the lab is now up to 20+ people we still take care to do our own parts and share duties. I think it's worth identifying who your direct supervisor/mentor is and talking to them about it directly. Make sure you're both on the same page. I was told by other grad students in my group that their experiences as undergrads were totally different; they scrubbed dishes and took out trash fro two years before doing real experiments (at UChicago; I'm generalizing here but I assume they were probably not terrible students). It really depends from case to case but in this case you may need to advocate for yourself. I don't blame you for feeling that way and I think some people have been a little harsh about the "negative attitude"; it's hard to know what to expect when it's your first time in a biology lab. It may be that the other RA has a bit more experience on their resume than you do but I would say you should stand up for yourself here. Perhaps offering to do grunt work and on top of that making time to learn biology techniques will sit better with them and they'll see that you really want to learn the science as well.
  2. Thanks for the advice! I thought I'd just update you all on an option I figured out with my international office in case anyone is in the same boat in the future. I'm fortunate enough to be able to work on TN status for NAFTA citizens so for any Canadians or Mexicans out there in the same boat this may be a cheaper and more flexible option.
  3. I completely get where you're coming from, however Berkeley is just as well regarded as MIT inside the field of physics. I think the best way to go about this is to ask yourself about what the goal of your PhD is. Are you envisioning it as a tool to get a job in finance? Or do you want to pursue industry/academia? I think the answer will guide you to determining the path that's most conducive to reaching your goal. That's not to say that you'll never change your mind in the process. Also you mention you'll be happier at MIT because of the people, but will the research be good enough as well, because that will be your primary focus for 5-7 years. I've known a handful of grad students at my current school who came in wanting to work in high energy theory and they ended up having to leave 3-4 years in because they couldn't find a faculty advisor (I should add that our physics department is one of the best in the world too) so even at good schools, making sure that you'll have someone to work with and look out for you is important. Just my two cents. You have great options and ultimately I don't think there's a wrong choice. GL!
  4. Kind of an old thread but I didn't know where else to post this. I'm graduating from my undergrad institution this year (Canadian in the US) and will be starting in a PhD program in the fall also in the US. However, I'd like to work in my undergrad lab for a month to 6 weeks after graduation. I was told that I could apply for OPT (but that would cost $410 and take up to 90 days to process--which is around the time I would want to leave). Has anyone been in this situation and have any suggestions for staying in the US and working legally, preferably paid but would consider unpaid?
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