Saturday, March 14, 2009

Graduate Students, Be Smart!

I recently came across an interesting article by Tom Daniel. Although a professor of biology, his advise on how to look for the right lab is applicable to engineering too:
  • Sample a range of lab environments and cultures and find a lab that will help you develop as a researcher
  • Find out what the ground rules and expectations are
  • Look for opportunities that will benefit your career
  • Be smart: the best lab is not necessarily the one that pays the most. Success is not always about being comfortable - so look for a lab where you will be pushed a bit.
  • Evaluate labs: In an established lab, find out what’s the lab’s track record? Where have people ended up working after their lab experience? Younger faculty members may not have well established labs but often bring the newest ideas to the discipline and are often willing to spend time with graduate students.
  • Be clear about your own expectations for mentorship in a lab: how often would you like to meet with faculty mentors? Ask other graduate students in the lab about the nature and extent of mentorship.
  • Make good use of your lab work: publish early and publish often
  • Participation is the key to any successful lab. Recognize that you have the potential to be a valuable contributor from the very first day you walk in the door. Learn from others and support others in the lab.
What are your tips for grad students looking for the right lab? Post your comments!

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