You’ve decided that you want to get your hands on some lab equipment, and after Labs and Pipettes Part 1, you have a pretty good starting point for doing so. Congratulations! You’re one step closer to diving into the world of research. However, there are 3 questions that come to mind. When is a good time to pursue this? What field do you want to explore? How important is a good mentor? Read on to find out!
1. When should I do an internship?
Do I want to do research earlier or later in my degree?
One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re in a programme like Biomedicine at KI, you’ll be in the lab from the very beginning to the very end as part of your different courses.
So the earlier you start with extracurricular lab work, the more experience you’ll have, which is great for giving context to your coursework and for your CV. On the other hand, waiting a bit lets you figure out what fields you like more than others, and whether you want to get your nose into research in the first place.
As for working in the summer or during the semester, here are some of the important things to consider:
|During the semester?
|Or during the summer?
|Doing an internship alongside full time studies is pretty demanding
mentors know this, and are usually flexible and understanding
|The summer is a chance to focus and get a good picture of what doing full time research might be like
Summers are important for taking a break, visit family, or to prepare for the coming semester
|You will learn how to juggle your responsibilities like a pro which is a learning experience in itself
It can get stressful if you’re faced with unforeseen or unfortunate circumstances
|There are lots of research opportunities in the summer, so it’s a great time to explore the research environment in a new lab, city, or country
It can be expensive, and some sources of financial support may be less available in the summer
2. What do I want to learn?
There are many, many interesting things out there, and doing an internship is a way to dip your toe into the waters.
If you have something you’re really passionate about or something that sounds really fun, then do delve into it! For many of us though, curiosity is a stronger driver until passion takes over. You can discover so many things by indulging that curiosity, and I’d encourage you to do so.
Moreover, the initial part of your journey in science will most likely be learning the basics — techniques, experiment design, lab procedure — and these things are often things you’ll learn in any lab in your field.
If you’re a generally curious person faced with an opportunity to explore or research that sounds somewhat interesting, take it up. You’ll learn about whether it’s the topic for you once you explore it more.
3. How important is a good mentor?
People often focus only on the topic they’d like to research and underestimate the role played by a good mentor and supervisor. So if you can find the balance that gives you both, then you’re all set!
If you have a teacher or lecturer whose teaching style works for you, then they might be the best person to guide you into the world of research. Talk to them and see what the do—even if they themselves aren’t up for mentoring you then maybe they know someone who is.
So what now?
Go out into the world! I hope this helps you take another step in your journey towards labs and pipettes. I’ll be back with the next part soon, and until then, happy sciencing!
Hello, Inika here. I’m a third-year Biomedicine bachelor’s student at KI. I'm from India and a little bit from Sweden. As a Digital Ambassador Blogger, I'll be writing about my programme, things happening in and around KI, and giving insights into university life.