Always picked last...

Sep 28 2011 Published by under Grad School, Lab

So there has been much debate about who to hire first for a new lab:  a postdoctoral fellow or a technician.  While everyone has a different take on this and rightfully so one of the last things that will probably be brought into the lab is a graduate student.  And rightly so. But how long would you wait after starting a new lab before taking on a graduate student or rotation student (if you have that system)? A few months? A semester?

6 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Couple of years?

  • qaz says:

    Why wait?

    I took on my first two rotation students within a month of becoming a PI. They were fantastic and helped me set up the lab. (And have both gone on to be quite successful.) My former PI told me a story where a new student knocked on his door the day after he joined his university as a new PI and said "I waited 24 hours. Is that long enough?" Both the graduate student and PI went on to be very famous and have successful careers.

    If they're good they'll be helpful and will make your lab better. If they're bad, it doesn't matter when you take them on, you'll be sorry.

  • Ewan says:

    I'm with qaz. I've just started year 4 as an asst prof (yikes, that long already!); by far the single most useful person in terms of getting stuff done has been the grad student whom I inherited as my first TA and who joined the lab essentially immediately [he was in his first year, having been accepted into one of the already-present labs, and found my stuff more interesting].

    I have still not been able to find a tech, and postdocs have come and gone; he's provided both continuity and some pre-existing expertise that melded well with mine. I can see no upside to waiting, really.

  • The concern is that n00b PIs have no idea what the fucke they are doing when it comes to mentoring. Sure, if you get a self-driven genius grad student, it doesn't matter much if you know how to mentor: she'll be fine regardless. Likewise, if you get a fuckewitte grad student, it also doesn't matter: h'd flame out regardless. Where it matters is with those in the midrange: some of them who might have been fine with an experienced mentor will flame out with a clueless n00b.

  • gerty-z says:

    I took a rotation student a few months after I started, and got 2 students in my lab the first year. I had an undergrad that helped unpack and set up the lab, then a technician for a couple of months before the academic year started. The grad students that have joined my lab are doing great. I know that I am a noob, and really don't want to fuck up some poor grad student that didn't know better. But things are going really well so far, and I just try to keep up on things and make sure they interact with other (non-n00b) faculty mentors that are on their committees.

  • Thomas Joseph says:

    The concern is that n00b PIs have no idea what the fucke they are doing when it comes to mentoring.

    One really doesn't know how to mentor IMNSHO until they actually do it. May as well get cracking at it as quickly as possible.

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