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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Hemichordate, Jun 13, 2008.
If you are going to mention having done research, you'd better know what the research is all about and why you are running the gels, and what you are looking for, etc. You are part of a team which is researching a bigger picture than your little part of it. Know the big picture and talk about that.
Easier said than done.
OP, I'm in the same shoe as you. I'm doing undergrad summer research for the first time this summer in a molecular biology lab. Though I have my own projects, I never actually get to design experiments, plan next steps for my project, and so on. These are all done by my PI and supervisors, who just tell me what to do next. If they tell me to pick 700 C. elegans this week, then I do it. If they tell me to design primers for certain genes, I do it and that's it. I know (but not really well) the purposes of doing these kinds of things and what I'm told to do, but if I actually try to say them in my own words, I have very little to say, and this worries me. I wouldn't want to be like that during my interview and the interviewer would think I'm a dumbass.
Well, when you are just starting out, you just do whatever you are told by people who are actually running the experiments. That's how it works. But that should NOT stop you from asking your PI's and grad students about the bigger picture of the project. If you are a part of the project you should be comfortable asking what the project is trying to accomplish.
As for what to say during interviews, it would be helpful if you write out in your words the aims of the project and your part in it. Then ask your PI/grad students to read it over and critique it. And practice, practice, practice...
You need to go meet with the PI or other members of the research team who are very well informed on the project. Get a full description of what was being done, how your part effected the project, find out what the goals were, what results currently have been found etc.
Get this info, do some lit review, get back in contact with the PI or whomever you spoke with and make sure you can talk fluently about the research.
The interviewer might ask you a question you don't know the answer too, if you don't just say you are not sure. Don't BS, because if it is at all medical they probably know more than you and even if it isn't, they still probably do. This is something that I think can really shape the impression of you as an applicant, whether you were a lab drone or an active participant in a study. Even if at the time you didnt know what you were doing or why, find out later and be prepared to talk about it.
I'm sure the PI would love to give you some of their papers to get a background on what you are working on as well as give you an idea of the goals for the current work. Just express interest...
This is actually a concern of mine too
I've heard they ask you what "your goals" are and "your results." I don't know how many people applying MD have actually had their own independent results. "My" results are infact "our" results.. it's all collaboration. I would feel weird using "I" to answer research-based questions during interviews. The research has been going on long before I entered the lab.
Read up on his old papers...and ask your PI what his short term future plans include...You can probably get enough to talk about for a few minutes right there.
Nobody said it would be easy. As others have mentioned, you need to talk to members of your team, find out what background papers they recommend so you can talk intelligently on the topic, etc. It is critical to do this because, as mentioned, "running gels" in and of itself is not worthy of discussion. Doing the legwork in trying to find a mutation in XYZ related to condition MNO probably would be. So you need to know the bigger picture. In fact, not being curious enough to have ever found out much about the big picture pretty much negates anything you have done in the lab in the eyes of a research oriented interviewer. They don't care that you know how to make and run a gel, clean glassware etc. They care that you know something about researching a specific hypothesis.
You can certainly say "our" and "we" when you are asked questions about "your research".