Jump to content

Am I too incompetent for research?


Recommended Posts

I am a recent college grad working in a lab during my gap year. I have been working under the post-docs for half a year now. They yell at me whenever I make mistakes or do things that are different from how they taught me. I know I have been working here for a while now but I feel like they ask me to do different things every other week and expect me to know the protocols by heart once I've done it once, and I just couldn't. I know from their point of view, I just could never remember anything no matter how many times I've done it, and I recognize that it is a problem. However, I was not used to knowing every detail on a protocol by heart and feel like it is unfair for me to remember exactly how to do something I learned for the first time months ago. Even though I recognize that I am not a competent researcher, I don't think I deserved to be treated like this. My post doc yells at me constantly and is always passive aggressive towards me when I make mistakes, or even when I don't have the best techniques. I know they mean well and are not just terrible people, but I didn't realize I was this incompetent before this lab and want to quit. Am I not cut out for research? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

God, it sounds like the lab you're working in is so toxic. As a current undergrad working in a lab, I promise you not all research labs are like this. The lab I'm in is so understanding and has never once made me feel not competent (even though I ask dumb questions sometimes and make mistakes, because humans make mistakes and we don't deserve to get yelled at for such minor things)-- I want to make it clear that I am not a research-y person by any means and while I personally don't believe I'm cut out for research, the lab I'm in has never contributed to this feeling in any way. My advice is to find a different lab (if possible) with a better, non-toxic work environment. If you still feel not cut out for research in this new environment without being yelled at or put down, I'd say it's just not for you and that's okay. But right now, any reasonable person would feel incompetent with the way that you're being treated-- it's not you, it's THEM.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for your response! I really appreciate it. I wasn't sure if I am in a toxic environment or not because I technically am not a student anymore and should be held to a higher standard, but I really still feel very inexperienced because to me this is still a new lab environment. I have had multiple lab experiences before and was never in this kind of position before. If others are interested in giving me other feedback, please feel free!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/28/2021 at 4:18 PM, bubblebath said:

I know they mean well and are not just terrible people

Going to disagree with you there, based on how you're describing the experience. Not every lab or research environment is like this, I'd say most aren't.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
On 3/28/2021 at 1:18 PM, bubblebath said:

I am a recent college grad working in a lab during my gap year. I have been working under the post-docs for half a year now. They yell at me whenever I make mistakes or do things that are different from how they taught me. I know I have been working here for a while now but I feel like they ask me to do different things every other week and expect me to know the protocols by heart once I've done it once, and I just couldn't. I know from their point of view, I just could never remember anything no matter how many times I've done it, and I recognize that it is a problem. However, I was not used to knowing every detail on a protocol by heart and feel like it is unfair for me to remember exactly how to do something I learned for the first time months ago. Even though I recognize that I am not a competent researcher, I don't think I deserved to be treated like this. My post doc yells at me constantly and is always passive aggressive towards me when I make mistakes, or even when I don't have the best techniques. I know they mean well and are not just terrible people, but I didn't realize I was this incompetent before this lab and want to quit. Am I not cut out for research? 

You are cut out for research.

Link to post
Share on other sites

They don't sound like they mean well and they do sound like terrible people.

If they're not interested in teaching you the skills you need to successfully do research that is not your fault. If they wanted someone who already knew advanced research techniques, they should have hired someone with advanced research techniques - not a fresh college grad. It is the responsibility of senior researchers (postdocs) to mentor new hires with less experience. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of pedagogy would know that showing someone something once and then expecting them to be an expert is NOT good pedagogy.

I'm sorry they're treating you like this. You don't deserve to work in a toxic environment like that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.