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is Lab assistant bad compared to RESEARCh assistant?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by heeyah9332, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. heeyah9332

    heeyah9332 2+ Year Member

    Oct 10, 2013
    So entering second semester of my sophomore year, I was offered a paid lab assistant at a pretty prestigious HIV vaccine lab. However, the PI told me that my first semester or a year will be mostly spent doing dishwashing, making LB broth, really routine work. But if he finds that I do my job responsibly, he will give more opportunities.
    Is this job bad compared to a regular research job?? like many of my friends are doing PCR, western blotting, just about more advanced work.
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  3. Boolean


    Oct 14, 2013
    It's a step in the door. If you plan on staying in this lab, no. This could be highly beneficial to you. Showing your handwork and devotion to the subject matter could play out quite handsomely for you. If you don't plan on staying in the lab, then this won't likely be as positive in your favour.
  4. Matt20


    Aug 19, 2013
    Go for it. Most people start out doing grunt work. If you go above and beyond, your PI will notice and you will be given more responsibilities. I kind of started out doing the same thing in my university's malaria lab. After one semester I became more involved in the actual research. I ended up staying on after graduating last May. I am now in a position to co-author a paper as early as next summer.
  5. TheShaker

    TheShaker 2+ Year Member

    Jan 31, 2012
    Meh, I'm an RA and I'm pretty much just a glorified lab tech. I think the job title and responsibilities is completely dependent on the employer.

    In your situation though, it just sounds like he wants to see if you're a good worker before giving you real stuff to do. Go for it and try to show some potential. It's not really so much of a waste of time since you're actually getting paid.
  6. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A As & Is 5+ Year Member

    Jul 8, 2012
    It's no big deal. Worst case you call it "work experience" and not "research experience". It's all gravy...
  7. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist 5+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2012
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    You ideally want to work your way up. If your PI only plans for you to be a paid lab assistant, then you can still call it work experience, but you can't really say it's "research experience". Luckily, most people DO make their way from that, so you'll be fine.
  8. Mavs88

    Mavs88 2+ Year Member

    Jul 15, 2013
    I'm in a similar position as the OP. I interviewed to be part of a research lab at my undergrad's sister graduate science research facility and got a position. Little did I know until after starting, that I am a "Student Assistant" and just do grunt work.

    Essentially one week of work over and over and over again. Furthermore there are 2 more people in the lab hired for this position. It really only takes one person to do I feel like I'm not doing much of anything. I haven't asked about if/how I can move into more research I ask?

    What separates me from a lab assistant to a research assistant? I want to actually be involved in the research in this lab, but it is really 3 PhD students and a post doc that do everything...

    Any advice for me? I have a pretty good chance of getting into an undergraduate research lab on main campus...but hell both?

  9. moisne

    moisne 2+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2014
    Research assistant has input on what should be tested next and analyzing results. Lab assistant follows procedures and completes them. Many times research assistants are published.

    Is being a Lab Assistant bad? No. Just not as impressive as a RA
  10. aspirantmed


    Oct 27, 2013
    If you're able to find a more academically stimulating gig, do that instead. If not, meh .. you've got to start somewhere ..
  11. kyamh

    kyamh 2+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2013
    The meaning of the position titles is very variable. There are plenty of labs where "techs" get cool first-author publications, and there are labs where research assistants "assist" and nothing else. No one will care what your job title says, what they will care is what you got out of it - experience, abstracts, posters, publications, leadership, mentoring opportunities, etc. You will have space on your application to describe what you exactly you did.

    Also, I wouldn't say that running Western blots (if that's all you do) is a huge step up from making LB broth ;)

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