Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DFPM: When Things Go Wrong

* Note This is the first in what I hope will be a series of letters to myself as a future faculty member, hence DFPM - Dear Future Professor/PI Me. As I run into things as a graduate student, or see things around me, that I want to remember something about it when I get to be Professor/PI. *

Dear Future Professor Me,

When your new graduate student suddenly realizes she completely mismanaged her time, is trying to cram a weeks worth of work into two days and fails miserably, remember.. you've been there. Sometimes the noobs do not think all the way through things. Crack a small smile, nod and say "ok that happens." It's amazing how much that simple acceptance helped calm nerves.

She is probably feeling incredible stupid. A feeling you might not remember now being a hotshot professor, but you have been there. Remember that time you had to toss out a whole flat of Arabidopsis because you did not get the plasmids made in time? Good, hold on to that feeling. Pass on some reassurance.

She is probably feeling really nervous having to tell you that she messed up. Her timing was off, things took longer than she thought, her experimental yield was low, whatever the reason was she might not think it is a good enough reason and be second guessing her ability to plan.

She will feel very relieved, even if she notices the hint of amusement, when you nod and understand. Don't let it become a habit but the first time your new grad student completely mismanages time in the lab, shrug it off. You'll be amazed how grateful she will be and it adds to your cred!

Sincerely,
Lowly Grad Student Me

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