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Saturday, May 24, 2008


With graduation fading in our memories, my lab is undergoing a change. One of our own is leaving. They are off to an assistant professor job. It is a position they seem happy with and we are all happy to see them off to succeed in the world. The Advisor, other faculty, other labmates, other students and myself have all had difficulties with this person* and I wish them the best in their new life.

Mad Hatter talked about the 'airport test' and how fit is much more than just personality. She actually says most of what I have been thinking about, and in a far more linear way so check it out if you haven't already.

So how does fit relate to a graduating student? Well, our lab has never run more smoothly**. Lab meetings are fun. It is a more supportive environment now. The person who left was never unsupportive or anything...but the entire atmosphere has changed and we are all a little more relaxed.
In addition to the huge influence of one single person, I find it interesting that as labs evolve what constitutes fit will change dramatically. Given that the rest of us get along well, what we look for in our incoming student is very different than when I started. A big part of my litmus test on my interview was how I would fare with someone difficult. I was put one on one with lab members and advisor was up front about potential personality conflicts. Our incoming student was thrown in with all of us to see how they would handle the possibly-overwhelming group of us.

Finally, this fit talk is everywhere. Between starting this post and publishing this post I heard from a postdoc acquaintance who just accepted a job. With three (3!!!!!!!!!, 2 at R1s) offers, the reason for their choice: 'it feels like a really good fit.' In all my postdoc hunting, I have kept my own feelings about where I fit in the back of my mind. The prestige or fame of PI or money issues have taken center stage but they really probably shouldn't.

* Which remain unbloggable.
**In my time there. Also, I am the only lab member on campus. I run smoothly all by myself but that is fodder for a different post. Possibly not with the usual 1o day interlude.



Blogger EcoGeoFemme said...

We had the exact same thing happen. One person graduated and everything changed. Everyone is more relaxed and lab meetings are so much better because ther's not so much tension. It's amazing how much one person can affect group dynamics, for better or worse.

6:07 PM  
Blogger adamgv said...

I love knitting! The only thing I have a problem with is fuzzies which cling to my garments. The best thing to use is a fabric shaver. The best one I know of is on the link.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Geeka said...

You know, ever since I have defended, lab has been fun. I have all this new work to do (make protocol books, train some people, do revisions), but for some reason, it's like everything is different.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Mad Hatter said...

Nice post and thanks for the link! Glad to hear the atmosphere in your lab has improved. It's funny how sometimes we don't even realize that things weren't quite right until it becomes right....

10:30 PM  
Blogger botanybabe said...

tssk, tssk. did you never chat with barnes. should have. that was his number one advice. visit somewhere, pay attention to how you feel. this will be your home (nothing is more true in academia), so if you don't feel good or feel like you "fit" forget it. it is still one of my biggest advice points. holds true for jobs too. believe me, i sucked it up for money before when the signs were all wrong. i could not have regretted my decision more. and it just solidified the notion of attention to your gut. screw logic.

3:19 PM  
Blogger DancingFish said...

Funny that these situations are so common! Glad to hear the situations have improved for others as well!

10:52 PM  

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