Maintaining a happy work life in the Biorobotics institute is really important since it covers a huge chunk of your day time. You’d be working from 9 am in your laboratory and finishing work at 6 pm in the evening.
You need to mentally prepare yourself for starting work on the same day that you are introduced to your team. Ask good questions about the project and talk to them about your major and relevant courses that you took. I know that these are already included in your CV but your whole team might not have read it.
The institute is more like a family of scientists who work and hangout together everyday, trying to make the world a better place. I could not see any difference between students, research assistants and professors. Every one were such jolly old friends. You could totally be best friends with your professors. The social freedom was just so overwhelming! It relieved you of your anxiety of talking to someone in a higher authority than you.
Depending on the difficulty of the project and your qualifications, your supervisor would assign you to a specific task to complete. In the beginning, you might feel useless for completing simple tasks. You might think they are just trying to get rid of you by keeping you aside from the “real” work. However, as the weeks pass by, you’ll be asked to complete more challenging tasks that would in the end contribute to the research project.
In reality, if like me, your internship duration is two months, it is not at all enough for working on a large scale research project, that would take years to be completed. Just do your best in whatever task is assigned to you.
As per the words of one of my team members, “The first few months are spent mostly in learning the required software and getting familiar with the requirements of the project.”
The more crucial aspect of your work life is to develop a sense of trust with your team members. Show your dedication to your tasks by constantly updating them on your progress. I admit that I myself was too shy to interrupt them during their work in case they were busy. Most of my will power was consumed by mustering up the courage to go up to my team members and talk to them.
Words would form and build up inside me and just when the volcano of words was about to erupt, they’d disappear into a mist on my lips. I was always afraid.
What if they were working on something important? What if I disturb them? What if I put a bad impression or do something stupid!
Building a good relationship with your team-mates is extremely important. At the end of my internship, I asked the most senior of my team members for a critical feedback. I had braced myself for getting criticized for all sorts of flaws in my technical education. Yet, I found myself completely shaken off by her comments.
It was not my lack of technical qualifications but instead the limited amount of interaction I had with my team members. In fact, she had been quite impressed by my technical skills.
Thus, speaking from personal experience, don’t be shy! You’re an important part of the project and they need to know what you’re up to. In real jobs, it is all about team members interaction which reflects upon the end product.
Looking back now, if I had spoken more often of the challenges I faced, I would have completed my work more productively and might have progressed to even more complex tasks.
Sometimes, tackling your problems alone is not bravery but sheer stupidity!