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Oct 14, 2011
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Hi everyone,

So I've been searching and applying for a research assistant/technician or lab assistant job for about five months now. Back in February, I was still a senior in undergrad as a Biology/Pre-Med major but now I've graduated. I've had volunteer experience in hospitals as a child life volunteer and spent the summer as a research intern in Portugal with a research team.

I know job searching isn't exactly instantaneous but I'm kind of getting worried. Is there something that I'm doing wrong?

Should I be contacting PI's directly instead of just filling out the applications for the positions? Would my gpa be a factor? I normally don't list my gpa because it's really low (stemming from a mental health crisis I had previously) but I am very adept with lab work. Is it more difficult to find a position because I don't work in house at the university or hospital? Any advice would be much appreciated because I am desperate for a job.
It is definitely easier while you are a student versus if you graduated. What research experiences did you have? What are you as applying for? What bench techniques did you learn? Who's writing your letters?
 
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Well for three months I worked in a research lab in Portugal researching diabetic complication. I was responsible for doing western blots, attaching antibodies to the proteins, and prepping them for immunofluorescence. I also observed open heart surgeries while waiting for the epicardial tissue to deliver back to the lab for analysis. I have experience handling the lab mice as well. I presented relevant papers to the team there.

Other than the internship, I learned how to do gel electrophoresis, cell passaging, PCR, Spectrophotometry, ELISA, bacterial inoculation, DNA plasmid cloning, and many other molecular/cell biology procedures that I've done repeatedly over my undergraduate career.

I haven't sent any recommendation letters with my applications, but my references are the child life specialists that were my supervisors during my volunteering (I did two summers there) and the PI from the research internship.

My ultimate goal is to be a physician but since my GPA took one hell of a drop I have a lot of mending to do. My plan is to be working in something hopefully related to research or maybe clinical while I work on a DIY post bacc, retaking classes I did horribly on. And then maybe doing a master's after, just to fully buffer between my undergrad and grad. It might take 3-4 years to do but I am willing to put in the work.
Research is a lot less important on a med school application if your stats don't make you a good candidate for the more selective, research-oriented schools. One year of research is the average listed, and honestly one term or one summer is enough to "check the box." More research will not help adcomms overlook weak numbers.

Strengthening your future application through clinical experience (via work or volunteering) and community service that helps those in need would be a better use of your time, IMO.

Right now, any job will do if you acquire clinical and nonclinical volunteer hours in your free time. Employment that requires interaction with the public, problem-solving, responsibility, and eventually gets you a leadership role (like training new hires), would be desirable. If you get a job on a college campus, you might even get free tuition as an employment benefit, if you're lucky.
 
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