prealchemy

Alchemist
5+ Year Member
Dec 25, 2013
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Medical Student
Hi there, I am new. I am a first-year and have completed my first quarter in college. I did not join any clubs or any other extracurriculars in order to focus on academics first quarter. First quarter went extremely well, and I am now considering branching out of academics. The biology department is looking for a lab assistant, and I have the qualifications (read: virtually nothing :p). The job would mostly be preparing undergrad bio lab reagents, equipment etc. Will this look good at all in the future? Or would it be better to attempt to volunteer now? Or to hell with both of them and do an unrelated extracurricular, of which I have many I am curious about? The job is a decent commitment, 10-15 hours a week, and I a little worried about balancing that and school.

Thoughts?
 

Ismet

PGY-almost done!
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May 15, 2011
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You can do all 3 with good time management. Volunteering should only take a few hours a week. I always volunteered on Sunday afternoons for 3-4 hours. The lab assistant job is a good way to get your feet wet in lab, but if you want something really meaningful on your application, you have to get into an undergraduate research position where you are working on a hypothesis-driven project. 10-15 hours/week is definitely manageable. And depending on how time-intensive the EC is, you can probably fit that in too. You can fit in a lot of stuff with good time management!
 
OP
prealchemy

prealchemy

Alchemist
5+ Year Member
Dec 25, 2013
21
1
Status
Medical Student
Okay - do you think its essential to start everything immediately? How important are extracurriculars that have nothing to do with medicine, like volunteering? Is it essential that my research be medicine related, or could it lie in other sciences? Thanks!
 

turayza

5+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2012
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@prealchemy
Sounds cliche, but do whatever is interesting to you. If you find a research position that is medicine-related, that wants you, and the project is interesting, that's great! If you find a position that does research on astrophysics, and you find the project is interesting, that is great too.

Preparing lab reagents/equipment (in comparison to experimental design/hypothesis-driven research) is pretty mindless and won't be as mentally draining as actually doing research. Keep in mind that "research" refers to contributing to a project, usually with the aim of publishing (not necessarily you publishing, but the lab/grad student/post-doc working on the project wants that project to end up in a paper), not just being in a lab and washing dishes. But working in a lab is an excellent way to get connections and have better qualifications for research.
 
OP
prealchemy

prealchemy

Alchemist
5+ Year Member
Dec 25, 2013
21
1
Status
Medical Student
@turayza Thanks man! I'll keep your advice in mind. Finding a research position at my University appears rather difficult at this time, but we'll see.
 

turayza

5+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2012
923
864
Status
Medical Student
@prealchemy Yeah definitely! Your successful first quarter makes it sound like you've got solid time-management, so I wouldn't worry about overburdening yourself. If you accept the lab position, give yourself a month or so to see how busy you feel and if you think you have it down, you should try to find volunteer or shadowing opportunities. And have fun! It's college, and you'll never be surrounded by so many bright people and have the opportunity to try so many different things again.