This summer has certainly been one of amazing opportunities and surpassed expectations. Coming into this program, I’m not 100% sure what I expected, but one this if for sure, I definitely didn’t think I would enjoy going to lab like I did. Even at the beginning when I was just doing safety tests and practicing lab math, I thought that I would spend the summer having my hand held through a reasonably simple project. But that was so far from reality. I found that the two weeks I spent practicing what I considered relatively easy tasks was so beneficial when I actually began my project. Every skill my mentor had me cultivate helped me when I began to work more independently. My actual project I found to be so much fun. I got the opportunity to learn so much about a virus that I was, and continue to be, very interested in, which just helped to reaffirm the current career plans I have for myself. In addition to getting to know my project, I got to know so many amazing people in my lab. I had the pleasure of learning from two awesome mentors and three amazing lab technicians, in addition to speaking with multiple postdocs. If I gained nothing else from this summer, I am content with the quality of relationships that I developed.
However, I did gain something else this summer. A lot of somethings, in fact. It’s so easy to say that I just gained research experience this summer, but the reality is I gained so much self-confidence. This summer was transformative in my ability to approach people, ask questions, and make connections. I also learned that I can effectively communicate to groups of people without crumpling under the pressure. Above all else, B-SURF helped me with the existential crisis that so many of us suffer from in which we wonder whether we are smart enough, good enough, to be surrounded by so many smart and successful people. There were times that I looked down at a mg/ml conversion problem, or down at my 384-well where literally nothing had titered and even my negative control was showing binding activity, and I thought that maybe I just wasn’t smart enough. But the reality is 1. everyone makes mistakes (and in this case, it wasn’t even my fault), 2. that experiments rarely 100% according to plan and 3. that you can easily make a spreadsheet that does all of your math for you.
Clearly, this last lesson was the most important of the summer.
*Special shout out to Dr. G and Jason for being amazing human beings and blessing me with one exceptional summer. Also thanks to Trinity College for the $$$