Paid Lab Work @ McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, USA
HOW OPPORTUNITY WAS FOUND: www.partners.org (The opportunity was listed as one for post-docs, but sent an email anyway; told the interviewer that I could help as a lab assistant, and so he opened a lab assistant job that I could then apply to)
LENGTH: 4 months
LOCATION: Belmont, MA, USA
PERSONAL GROWTH: ★★★★☆
*No set hours; every Monday was sent a schedule with things that people need assistance with around the lab
- 8:30-5:30: Help with lab work
DESCRIPTION OF WORK/ACTIVITIES DONE:
**The lab worked to research Parkinson’s disease. In Parkinson’s, your level of dopamine decreases—so in this lab, they take human skin cells, turn them into stem cells, and then turn the stem cells into dopaminergic neurons.
- Job mainly involved helping with the process of testing behaviors of rats before the experiment, creating a lesion in the rat's brain to replicate the lack of motor function in Parkinson's disease and injecting the created dopaminergic neurons. Assistance mostly involved staining rat’s brain tissues and comparing its natural dopamine production vs the growth of injected dopaminergic neurons.
- Also did a lot of maintenance work (taking out hazardous waste, etc)
IN EXCHANGE OF 30-50 HOURS OF WORK/WEEK, PROVIDES:
$13.50/hour (minimum wage of Partners Health Care)
- I get really stressed out sending emails to people when I don’t think I’m qualified. But just look online, submit your resumé to everything, email everyone. Don’t be nervous that you’re not qualified.
- You’re surrounded by a lot of cool people in the labs. Bug these people to teach about the stuff that they’re working on, and ask them what you can help with! I got to be involved with many more projects than I was originally assigned to by making friends with other post docs, having lunch with them, etc. They are really excited to show you what you’re working on!
MOST MEANINGFUL LESSON TAKEN AWAY:
There's a lot of trouble shooting in science.