Hello there bloggies!
My first months transitioning to research in industry have certainly been eventful. Reorganization, a VP leaving, other departures/arrivals, interviews, and deciding on research strategies have all already happened. Such turbulence isn’t unique to the industry setting, though they may certainly happen at a quicker pace. PIs decide to switch universities, grant funding decisions don’t go your way, and department heads leave. Or even more acutely, experiments and projects don’t work out and changing research course is needed.
Unfortunately, these things are unescapable in the lab. Frankly, sometimes shit happens. It’s never fun to deal with in the moment. But how you deal with these times is critically important. These situations can turn into real opportunities for professional and personal growth.
Here are some things I try to keep in mind during these turbulent times:
1) There’s only so much you can control.
You don’t control everything, and you certainly can’t control what other people are going to do. That’s especially true for trainees and more junior scientists in organizations. PIs, senior folks, and VPs are going to do what they are going to do. But there are things you do control. You have a say in your work. Chart out what work is most important to be productive and do that work well. Don’t let stress and speculation take over your brain. Focus on doing well and everything will eventually fall into place.
2) Know your options and outlets
During these crazier times, it’s easy to feel like you are stuck with little say in your fate. Guess what: YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE AND OPTIONS. The hard part is knowing what your options are. Find the people in your group, department, or HR that can explain your options. They may involve internal maneuvering among groups, following your PI, or switching experimental approaches. The best option may be an external one. Work and develop that scientific network of yours. They can offer unbiased advice or possible new opportunities to pursue. Proactivity is a must. It’s your career for goodness sake!
3) Work and lab cannot be your life
Now, here is a theme that the blog has covered over and over again. Work in the lab can be ridiculously stressful especially during these rocky times. It is hard to not let that stress bleed into the other parts of your life. DON’T LET IT CONSUME YOU. Use your hobbies and life as relief. Hang out with your family. Read a book. Go rock climbing. Or hell go out for coffee with your friends. Don’t sit and stew.
Research and life are filled with unforeseen turbulence. These moments are not the end of the world though. They are simple bumps on your scientific journey and could even present new opportunities to get even better. Keep your chin up and do what you do well!
Thanks for stopping by the blog. How do you deal with turbulent times in lab? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @DrFsThoughts!