echod

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I'm wondering if I'm the only one in this situation. I'd feel a lot better if others have made the same mistakes. I've learned a lot, and I'm not like that now.

As an MSTP student, I expected lab rotations to be the easiest and most enjoyable part of the first two years. This has not been true for me. I've done three rotations so far, and all three have declined me to join the lab. The ultimate reason has been me not spending enough time in the lab due to classes, which made the professors think that I wasn't interested in their research. Adding to the problem were slightly below average people skills, a little arrogance, and maybe a few unrealistic comments about what I would like to achieve in research (nature/science).

Thanks a lot
 

mercaptovizadeh

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echod said:
I'm wondering if I'm the only one in this situation. I'd feel a lot better if others have made the same mistakes. I've learned a lot, and I'm not like that now.

As an MSTP student, I expected lab rotations to be the easiest and most enjoyable part of the first two years. This has not been true for me. I've done three rotations so far, and all three have declined me to join the lab. The ultimate reason has been me not spending enough time in the lab due to classes, which made the professors think that I wasn't interested in their research. Adding to the problem were slightly below average people skills, a little arrogance, and maybe a few unrealistic comments about what I would like to achieve in research (nature/science).

Thanks a lot
This is hard. I think there are likely two reasons why all three rotation labs would reject you:

1.) Interpersonal skills: do not mesh with others because of introversion, arrogance, etc.

2.) Not spending enough time in the lab. And this to a serious degree.

I would fix this problem by carefully choosing the next one or two rotation labs (you'll likely lose at least half a year because of this) on the basis of their research, their publication record, and the lab environment. I've found that personally I enjoy labs with more post docs rather than grad students or undergrads.

Alternatively, you can try research experiences during medical school, i.e. a couple of hours a week on the side in a lab of interest. These would not be official rotations and wouldn't give you a feel for the science, but might inform you that the interpersonal environment is undesirable.
 
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Scottish Chap

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echod said:
I'm wondering if I'm the only one in this situation. I'd feel a lot better if others have made the same mistakes. I've learned a lot, and I'm not like that now.

As an MSTP student, I expected lab rotations to be the easiest and most enjoyable part of the first two years. This has not been true for me. I've done three rotations so far, and all three have declined me to join the lab. The ultimate reason has been me not spending enough time in the lab due to classes, which made the professors think that I wasn't interested in their research. Adding to the problem were slightly below average people skills, a little arrogance, and maybe a few unrealistic comments about what I would like to achieve in research (nature/science).

Thanks a lot
Lab work IS hard and I cannot stress enough how critical it is that you learn basic lab ethics before you go any further. Your success will initially be dependent on a PI who wants to bring you along but you'll not get there until you take a step back. Ask for people's advice, be genuinely pleasant, try not to be so vocal about lofty publications when you've not put your time in the lab yet or developed your scientific mind; I promise you that you'll have made the senior lab members furious with that comment.

Strive to be laid-back in your interactions with others and less 'goal-oriented' in your conversations, ask about others' projects and talk less about what you want to do, be humble, don't be defensive, be sure you put your time in the lab - day and night - until you start getting data. All of these things are more instinctual to some people and less so to others. This can be learned. Good luck!
 

mdphd2b

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mercaptovizadeh said:
I would fix this problem by carefully choosing the next one or two rotation labs (you'll likely lose at least half a year because of this) on the basis of their research, their publication record, and the lab environment.
Additional rotations may not be an option at all schools, so make sure to check w/your program. I know of students here at Pitt who were declined by all 3 lab rotations. They were forced to join a 4th lab w/o doing any rotation there, since ultimately SOME PI's grant has to pick up your PhD funding in grad school!
 

QofQuimica

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Scottish Chap said:
Lab work IS hard and I cannot stress enough how critical it is that you learn basic lab ethics before you go any further. Your success will initially be dependent on a PI who wants to bring you along but you'll not get there until you take a step back. Ask for people's advice, be genuinely pleasant, try not to be so vocal about lofty publications when you've not put your time in the lab yet or developed your scientific mind; I promise you that you'll have made the senior lab members furious with that comment.

Strive to be laid-back in your interactions with others and less 'goal-oriented' in your conversations, ask about others' projects and talk less about what you want to do, be humble, don't be defensive, be sure you put your time in the lab - day and night - until you start getting data. All of these things are more instinctual to some people and less so to others. This can be learned. Good luck!
This is good advice. When I was a grad student, we'd have rotating students and even pre-med undergrads thinking they were going to come in and cure cancer in a single summer. :rolleyes: Doing research requires a lot of manual labor, and it is also requires good people skills. (It really annoys the s*** out of me when I hear people say that scientists don't need good people skills like doctors do, but that's a discussion for another thread. :p ) The good news, OP, is that these are all skills you can learn. You have to first recognize that you need to learn them before you can get anywhere, so you've already taken an important step in the right direction. I would suggest going to the career counseling center at your school or whomever is responsible for helping people in your program with career development. There are resources available to help you succeed; all you have to do is ask. Best of luck to you. :)
 
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echod

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QofQuimica said:
This is good advice. When I was a grad student, we'd have rotating students and even pre-med undergrads thinking they were going to come in and cure cancer in a single summer. :rolleyes: Doing research requires a lot of manual labor, and it is also requires good people skills. (It really annoys the s*** out of me when I hear people say that scientists don't need good people skills like doctors do, but that's a discussion for another thread. :p ) The good news, OP, is that these are all skills you can learn. You have to first recognize that you need to learn them before you can get anywhere, so you've already taken an important step in the right direction. I would suggest going to the career counseling center at your school or whomever is responsible for helping people in your program with career development. There are resources available to help you succeed; all you have to do is ask. Best of luck to you. :)
Thanks you guys for the great advice so far.

QofQuimica, could you elaborate more on the career counselors? Are you talking about career centers belonging to the med school?
 

QofQuimica

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echod said:
Thanks you guys for the great advice so far.

QofQuimica, could you elaborate more on the career counselors? Are you talking about career centers belonging to the med school?
You're in an MSTP, right? Or some kind of MD/PhD program? You guys should have someone available to help you with career development. I'd start by asking the program director or whomever is your advisor. I don't mean your PI since you don't have one yet; I mean a med school advisor. Some schools have academic societies or other systems of pairing up new students with advisors, but I think that every school at least has someone to serve as the class advisor. But I think I would try your MSTP director first. If your program can't help you, then yeah, go to the the medical school. They have to have someone who helps students with career issues. They might not normally work with M1s because you aren't imminently graduating, but if you need help now, you need help now. Every school is different, and the first people you talk to may not be the ones who can help you, so keep asking until you find the right people. :luck: to you. :)
 

relentless11

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Graduate Studies or something named similar may also have some resources too see how you can find a home to spend the next 4 years of your life;).

I personally didn't have to do any lab rotations for my grad program since we were required to have a PI willing to have us before applying. However having been in this lab for 5 years prior to doing a PhD, I can say that my PI is always wary of "new" people, whether they be undergrads or grad students. As the saying goes, first impressions are important, and thus the two points that mercaptovizadeh are something to consider. Not being able to put in the time is a real big red flag, at least to my PI and myself. Although it is understandable that you are obligated to take classes, ones lab work is finally earns you the PhD degree, and thus an indicator of your success. Even though my PI wanted me to work less in the lab so I can maintain a high GPA for my classes, I still spent half of my day and into the night working in the lab. The other PhD in my lab works even more than that, he spends 8-12 hours a day including weekends! There were even a few times when he had to work 72 hours straight (deadlines!) with a few naps here and there to stay sane. :eek:

There is no shortage of slave...err graduate labor out there and PI's must pick the student based on their own best interests, not yours. You can be the smartest yet most humble person on earth, but if you can't articulate yourself in a normal communication, then that may torpedo your chances right there. So many things can happen, and I don't know why the OP has been denied thus far. However it is certainly something to ask the MSTP advisors, and even your program's graduate advisors on your alternatives and whatnot.

Good luck! :luck:
 

jameslynton

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echod said:
Thanks you guys for the great advice so far.

QofQuimica, could you elaborate more on the career counselors? Are you talking about career centers belonging to the med school?
I can maybe give some insight - the counseling centers - career centers - normal have some APA PhD types in Counseling Psychology in there. These are good people who can help you out. They will maybe give you the Briggs Myer test maybe the MMP test. They will also talk with you about your issues, values and goals and look at your profiles from the tests and make suggestions for skill development.
 

Scottish Chap

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echod said:
Thanks you guys for the great advice so far.

QofQuimica, could you elaborate more on the career counselors? Are you talking about career centers belonging to the med school?
I almost forgot - when I was a Ph.D. student, I found that the following book was both accurate and thought-provoking. It helped to prepare me when I was a junior lab member: "The Ph.D. Process: A Student's Guide to Graduate School in the Sciences."
 

PTPoeny

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If you do get to do another lab rotation, can you do it when you don't have classes? Summer, or over a break?

I know it sucks not to have any break, today was my last day in the lab and class starts up on Monday :(

But having even a week or two with no classes and only lab work you could demonstrate that when you aren't taking classes you are committed to the lab and putting in time there.

Don't know if this is possible for you or not....
 
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