I really enjoy working with my mentor. A number of the graduate students in the lab have said before that her guidance wound up being the determining factor in their decision to join for their PhDs, and I understand that now. She’s very approachable, so you always feel comfortable asking questions whether they’re conceptual or just clarifying a protocol. My mentor has also been working in her field for several years (not counting her own time in graduate school prior), and so is highly experienced in both the subject matter that I’m learning and teaching both graduate and undergraduate students.
Before starting this internship, I didn’t know much about everyday graduate student life beyond the fact that they spend most of their time in the lab, except when they’re at class (if applicable), at a talk or seminar, or in another part of the building doing something for their research. I didn’t know much about lab meetings, where everyone presents how their research is coming along and any issues they’re running into. There’s actually a lot of troubleshooting that goes into research – not everything is foreseeable with careful experimental design alone, and often you wind up running (or re-running) additional experiments. Sometimes it’s a simple fix, and sometimes there’s guesswork involved and you just hope it works. I’m not complaining, though. Science would be a lot less interesting if everything was predictable from the get-go.