Now that I am finishing the third week of my internship, I am beginning to feel more settled in my lab and with my project. I have begun performing experiments that will inform the next steps of the project (I am really excited to see the results!), and I am getting to know my lab mentor. Her name is Katie, and she is on track to finish her doctoral dissertation by the end of next semester. This means she has a lot of experience and advice to share with me. And I am eager to hear it! She is a really great teacher, yet she doesn’t micromanage me when I am working on an experiment. I think she strikes a good balance of being there to answer my questions, while still trusting my abilities in the lab and allowing me to work at my own pace. I have had mentors on both ends of the spectrum, so it is refreshing to work with someone who has found that balance. What I also appreciate about her is her willingness to shed light on the challenges PhD students face. She doesn’t try to discourage me from pursuing graduate school (if it is something I ultimately decide to do), but she also highlights the difficulties that graduate students face. I think this is important. Pursuing a PhD is a huge commitment and can be very intense. I want to make informed decisions regarding my future in science, and I cannot do that if nobody talks about the realities faced by science PhD students.
As my project progresses, I am looking forward to applying the lessons I learn from Katie to become more independent in the laboratory and make a thoughtful decision about my future educational and career goals. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the experimental methods I am using, the biochemical processes I am studying, and what it means to be a scientist. I know this experience will prepare me for my future.