Archive for: June, 2012
My institution's IT infrastructure is well frustrating. I am currently locked out of a critical database system and have been so for almost two weeks. IT's response to my problem is, "Huh, that's weird. We'll keep looking at it." Said database system used to be administrated by a guy in another core facility and IT had a pissing match with him and took it over. Which is stupid because IT does not want to do the work in maintaining it and servicing user needs, which this guy was aptly doing before they swept in and hijacked it. My working relationship with IT has changed from pleasant but apathetic to dangerously acrimonious. I now visit them daily if now hourly to remind them of the thousands of dollars of research that are being held up because they can't seem to fix the minor problem. Nor will they listen to the former database administrator who has an idea of what's going on.
And on top of that, my institution decided to start using one of those browser-based travel software packages where we book our travel and submit receipts for reimbursement. It booking travel wasn't hard enough, the reimbursement process is made even more ridiculous. How come I can't get reimbursed for meals? Oh that's right, you weren't preapproved for meals on your system-generated travel allowance? Uh, I'm traveling out of state for a few days, I would hope they understand that I need sustenance. I'm not going to forage for berries and noodle for catfish in the local streams. Although, I hear Odyssey has a problem with squirrels...
This marathon will be over soon, unfortunately it feels like I have to run the rest of the race with a sandbag strapped to my back with all that I have left to do, but the end is in sight. I remember when I started I was so far removed from the end that you never really gave much thought about it, you were more concerned with just surviving. One pressure has been replaced by another. A new perspective gained.
I'm thankful to all the folks that have cheered me on along the race and will be there to celebrate with me when I cross the finish line. Some gave me hope, some gave humor, some knocked me down to give humility, and some I have no clue who they are or even what the hell they do here.
A clear idea of what your mentor expects from you and what you expect from your mentor can make for a very symbiotic mentor-trainee relationship. I've seen trainees get read the riot act for not living up to expectations that they didn't know about until later in the game. For instance, a PI lit up a 2nd year postdoc for not working enough in the lab since they started. Whether this is right or wrong is not germane, um should they be having this conversation nearly two years down the road. After a few months, maybe this talk should have taken place. And on the other foot, I've seen graduating PhD whine to their PI's that they didn't have enough experience in scientific writing and grantsmanship. A little late for that one too.
A healthy relationship requires both the mentor and trainee to bring up their concerns in a timely fashion and not to mention that if you have the problem, the onus is on you to bring it up. Its not going to bring itself up. Some of my biggest growths as a scientist have been when the boss has called me into the office and told me that I'm not living up to my end of the bargain and that I need to correct whatever deficiency that I have. Avoiding these conversations is like allowing a nasty wound to fester.
Its rough to have to sit through a presentation where someone is just spitting bricks of shit out of their mouth and trying to pass them off as gold. Your presentation is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, their is no linearity, and we are all having a hard time following it. The only good thing about your presentation is that it sets a horrific baseline for what is bad and presumably your presentation skills can only improve.