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mortalperil

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I just got invited for an interview at the NIH for the Postbac research program. I know this is a great opportunity and all, but I wanted to ask if anyone on this thread has been involved in it or knows someone who was - how was the social life? I'm from Bethesda originally (went to college somewhere else), so I know the area well and I know it's not crazy exciting. But were there opportunities to meet other postbacs/grad students and go out? Or was your experience just sort of get up, go to work, go home? Did you think it was a good experience? What were your favorite parts and least favorite parts? Thanks!
 

jahn019

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I did it 2014-2015 in Baltimore at the NIA.
There were fewer post-bacs in Baltimore since there were only 2 NIH centers there, but generally, the social aspect of it was pretty awesome.
We threw parties all the time, especially at a particular house that we dubbed "The Post-Bac House" because it housed like 6 generations of IRTA post-bacs lol.

From my understanding, Bethesda is also the same, but since there are WAY more IRTAs there, it should be even more sociable.
I had to go to main campus for certain things during my time in NIH, and each time I went it felt like a big college campus.

The level of work you do depends on the project.
My project was a longitudinal animal study, so my initial job was just taking care of the animals. That was pretty easy, so I left work at 5 pm every day.
But when I had to start doing behavioral studies and more bench work, I stayed as late as 10 pm. I thought it was rewarding though, since my results were significant lol.

There is definitely a lot of time to do other stuff. I spent a lot of weekends in DC or NYC. I went out with other IRTAs and lab members.
It was a great experience that I would recommend if you're interested.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer.
 
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NotaCop

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Don't let something like his steer you away from such a phenomenal opportunity, if you want a social life just go out and find one. Meeting people is easy if you're outgoing and willing to make the effort.

If it eases your worries at all, I'd consider myself pretty normal and I moved to a small hick town where I didn't know a soul for this past year and made tons of great friends, none of which are my coworkers. Find a roommate online, go out together, join a gym, be friendly, talk to people in line at lunch, start using Tinder more, and you'll be fine.

Emphasis on that last one
 

TexasSurgeon

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I did it 2014-2015 in Baltimore at the NIA.
There were fewer post-bacs in Baltimore since there were only 2 NIH centers there, but generally, the social aspect of it was pretty awesome.
We threw parties all the time, especially at a particular house that we dubbed "The Post-Bac House" because it housed like 6 generations of IRTA post-bacs lol.

From my understanding, Bethesda is also the same, but since there are WAY more IRTAs there, it should be even more sociable.
I had to go to main campus for certain things during my time in NIH, and each time I went it felt like a big college campus.

The level of work you do depends on the project.
My project was a longitudinal animal study, so my initial job was just taking care of the animals. That was pretty easy, so I left work at 5 pm every day.
But when I had to start doing behavioral studies and more bench work, I stayed as late as 10 pm. I thought it was rewarding though, since my results were significant lol.

There is definitely a lot of time to do other stuff. I spent a lot of weekends in DC or NYC. I went out with other IRTAs and lab members.
It was a great experience that I would recommend if you're interested.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer.

Don't let something like his steer you away from such a phenomenal opportunity, if you want a social life just go out and find one. Meeting people is easy if you're outgoing and willing to make the effort.

If it eases your worries at all, I'd consider myself pretty normal and I moved to a small hick town where I didn't know a soul for this past year and made tons of great friends, none of which are my coworkers. Find a roommate online, go out together, join a gym, be friendly, talk to people in line at lunch, start using Tinder more, and you'll be fine.

Emphasis on that last one

I've emailed so many people. Hardly anyone has responded. Maybe like 8 of the 60 people. And all the interviews I've had have resulted in people wanting 2 years of commitment or an earlier start date.

Ideas?
 

NotaCop

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I've emailed so many people. Hardly anyone has responded. Maybe like 8 of the 60 people. And all the interviews I've had have resulted in people wanting 2 years of commitment or an earlier start date.

Ideas?

I didn't do an IRTA so I can't comment, was just speaking on how to meet people. Sorry man. Maybe use the poster presentation guideline book from last year to find people who already are known to take interns and target your emails to them
 

jahn019

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I've emailed so many people. Hardly anyone has responded. Maybe like 8 of the 60 people. And all the interviews I've had have resulted in people wanting 2 years of commitment or an earlier start date.

Ideas?

When I did it I emailed about 6 or 7. I got interviews with 2 and then ended up with the one in Baltimore.
Personally, I think I was able to get it because my research background prior to IRTA fit really well with the lab I ended up working at.
Of course, not everyone goes in like that. I was actually really lucky to have found that lab.

As for the 2 year thing, I got that question a lot too. It makes sense for them to take someone who is planning to take 2 years since it means that the project that they end up working on will be more thorough and complete rather than handing it off after a year in which case a new IRTA has to learn everything again and train (which can be months). I was honest and said that my plans for the next 2 years were not certain, but I did make it clear that I would be applying to medical school the next cycle.

Also, don't just go into IRTA blindly. Look at their previous works. Do they get a lot of NIH grants?
NIH grants = money to hire people = you are more likely to be hired.
The labs I worked in had about 5 IRTA post-bacs each. Both were relatively productive well-known labs.
The labs that were unproductive (publication wise) had like 1 or none.

Did you try emailing Dr. Francis Collins? I know he's the director, but he does take a lot of post-bacs.
 

TexasSurgeon

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When I did it I emailed about 6 or 7. I got interviews with 2 and then ended up with the one in Baltimore.
Personally, I think I was able to get it because my research background prior to IRTA fit really well with the lab I ended up working at.
Of course, not everyone goes in like that. I was actually really lucky to have found that lab.

As for the 2 year thing, I got that question a lot too. It makes sense for them to take someone who is planning to take 2 years since it means that the project that they end up working on will be more thorough and complete rather than handing it off after a year in which case a new IRTA has to learn everything again and train (which can be months). I was honest and said that my plans for the next 2 years were not certain, but I did make it clear that I would be applying to medical school the next cycle.

Also, don't just go into IRTA blindly. Look at their previous works. Do they get a lot of NIH grants?
NIH grants = money to hire people = you are more likely to be hired.
The labs I worked in had about 5 IRTA post-bacs each. Both were relatively productive well-known labs.
The labs that were unproductive (publication wise) had like 1 or none.

Did you try emailing Dr. Francis Collins? I know he's the director, but he does take a lot of post-bacs.
Yeah I did, it was forwarded to someone who said there's no space haha

There's no space anywhere :(


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RSV0148

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I just got invited for an interview at the NIH for the Postbac research program. I know this is a great opportunity and all, but I wanted to ask if anyone on this thread has been involved in it or knows someone who was - how was the social life? I'm from Bethesda originally (went to college somewhere else), so I know the area well and I know it's not crazy exciting. But were there opportunities to meet other postbacs/grad students and go out? Or was your experience just sort of get up, go to work, go home? Did you think it was a good experience? What were your favorite parts and least favorite parts? Thanks!
I have been working as a post-bac IRTA this past year. I have it a bit easier socially because I am from the area and also know a number of people who wound up in DC so having either or both of those situations will help. In terms of post-bac social opportunities, I have not found it as engaging or as much of a social environment as I would have liked but I also have focused on making my work at work more about just that and then socializing separately. There are some post-bac events, but I personally have not looked into them much. Additionally, I think it is important to note that my work is not really with other post-bacs, but I know some other post-bacs who are in groups where there are other post-bacs and fellows and they are much more social. Overall, I think that while it is not ready made there is a social scene that you can take advantage of and all of the other aspects of the experience make it well worth it. For example, if you are pre-med there are so many great shadowing opportunities (you just have to reach out to doctors of interest)--I have even shadowed in the OR a couple of times. There are numerous interesting lectures every week that are worth checking out. There are some courses you can take etc
 
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