Hypothetical question about new PI's first hire...

May 18 2011 Published by under Lab, Uncategorized

So lets consider that you just got your first TT job and you need to hire someone to do your bidding. Would you choose a more seasoned technician that knows some techniques (maybe not yours) and the ropes at your institution or would you go the cheap route and get a fresh noob on the cheap? I'm sure there are some trade offs, training a noob versus shelling out more money from your limited war chest for a more experienced tech and the fact that they may retire before you do if they stick around that long.

So who you gonna hire to kick off your new lab

9 responses so far

  • Your dept pal on twitter says:

    Not knowing anything about the hypothetical situation it would depend on my financial situation and how much I wanted to stay in the lab vs become a desk-bound PI...but in the case of who you're thinking about, I 100% agree with the choice, having worked with the tech in question. A decent tech coming in with >10 yrs of experience and good recommendations from previous supervisors can easily learn new techniques, have honed their troubleshooting skills already and can be worth that extra money as more than just techs but as lab managers. But I probably wouldn't hire a super "gray ball" tech not likely to stick around at least 5 years till I had students and postdocs to run the ship.

    What about you (either generally or the specific situation ur thinking about)?

    • You and I might be thinking about the same specific situation but I really think that will work out well for both parties involved. As for me, it would depend upon how much proverbial cash in the bank I have from my start up and what the tech knows. Its definitely a leg up if they can already order, submit IBC's, and I don't have to teach them to western blot. But I can definitely DrugMonkey's logic in bringing them up the way you want to only know your system and they probably don't have any bad habits yet.

      So I'd take the noob or a seasoned tech, but definitely not an older one near retirement unless they had a great deal of experience in some technique that might help me out in the first few years.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Noob is default b/c I'm assuming the noob PI has stuff she wants done her way *and* is not ready to trust a tech to do too much independent thinking. Easier to build that trust and escape the bench if it is a smart person that you've trained to do it your way.

  • darchole says:

    Depends if the focus is tech to get the experiments going, or lab manager to get your sit together.

  • Dr 27 says:

    I definitely agree with DM here. I have my way of doing things and I'd like someone who's adaptable enough (prob n00b or new-ish) so that we can sit down and discuss things and do things together, and not have someone come in with "bad habits" or old habits which may or may not suit my needs. I guess in a way it wouldn't matter much, as long as said tech is adaptable/flexible enough, gets along with the rest of the lab and makes things work. Also, it'd depend on how much moolah is available to make a fair offer. Very interesting points, GR.

  • Namnezia says:

    Experienced technician is by far the way to go.

    • Genomic Repairman says:

      If you have funds and don't have the time or want to train up a noob. But if it were me, I might spring for one if I could afford it. Experienced techs can learn "your system" and probably faster than a fresh out of school, which way do I hold the pipet tech.

  • pinus says:

    I hired a fresh outta college person...but I would have hired a good experienced tech in a second. They are invaluable for navigating bureaucratic nonsense and getting shit done.

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