Surviving The Lab: Day 1

First day in the lab

Congrats! You are excited (but also anxious) to start your first day in a new lab. Here are some key tips to keep in mind to make it through your first day (or even the first couple of weeks).

Be patient

The first few days at any job can be overwhelming, but it can be especially tricky when people are using scientific terminology as everyday language. Take in what you can, and remember you are there to learn. Give it time and you will start bringing science terminology home with you to confuse your family and friends.

Take notes

take notes on the first day in the lab

A lot of information will be thrown at you over the first couple of weeks. Make sure to take notes throughout the day to help you remember and give you something to refer to if you forget later. If your supervisor is teaching you a new technique, ask for a copy of the protocol and start adding your notes. This will help later when you are expected to be carrying out experiments on your own!

Ask questions

It is easy for scientists who have been doing the same research for years to forget that not everyone knows what they know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for clarification when you don’t understand something. Asking questions is also a great way to reassure your supervisor or colleague that you are listening and processing the information they teach you. A willingness to learn is a massive part of being a good scientist at any level, from a new undergrad to an established postdoctoral fellow!

Get to know your co-workers

You are going to need a lot of help when you first start in the lab, so introduce yourself and get to know your co-workers. You will rely on your co-workers to help you navigate the lab space and your experiments, but also the ups and downs that come with it. A lot of labs have social events as well. This is an excellent opportunity to network, so try to attend if you can.

Have fun!

Although it can be overwhelming, you are working with a group of people who have spent years and years studying a topic they are passionate about. Take the opportunity to learn something new and have fun!

Even though it can be intimidating, all these scientists once started where you are now. Be prepared, ask questions, and work hard. You will get the hang of it before you know it!