Do lab classes count for “lab experience” in the real world?

I currently have a paid internship at a molecular biology lab while also working at a retail job and attending college full time pursuing a BS in biochemistry and cell biology. My schedule next quarter is going to include 2 lab classes and I wont have time to work at the lab job. (it is only 5 hours a week but I need money and the retail job pays better and gives me a more consistent schedule) I was wondering if the 2 lab classes I will be taking will be able to be included as "lab experience" when I look for a lab tech job after grduation. Most require one year of experience and I will technically be in a lab...Im not sure what to do at this point. My grades a kind of ꜱᴜcκing with 2 jobs and I need some down time next quarter to destress. I know the lab job is important for my resume but I dont think i can fit it into my schedule 🙁

1 Answer

  • I hate having to say this but class labs don't usually count as "lab experience" for getting a lab tech job. One of the big things a lab wants to know about a future technician is that they can work independently and can trouble shoot when experiments/tests go wrong - and even more important, be able to recongnize that something has gone wrong when you don't know what the result should be. Unfortunately most lab classes don't really give you that experience, since by definition either you, the TA, or both know what the result "should" be in class.

    But - notice that you have to have a "year" of experience. That does not mean 365 days x 24 hours/day = 8760 hours of experience. So ... if you don't have time for 5 hours a week, can you still put in two hours?

    Also. If you are working in a lab - ask your prof for a raise! Explain why, point out you just what you've said, retail pays better. Who ever has trained you, whether the professor, a post doc, a grad student, or some other tech, that person has invested a HUGE amount of time in training you. If you are finally producing results (and not to be harsh, but you may not be productive from the profs point of view, even if you feel you are doing good work) then paying you a bit more per hour is far cheaper than the thousands (if not tens of thousands!) of dollars of very expensive "principle investigator" time and resources starting all over with someone new. Your profs time is the most valuable thing to him (or her) and not wanting to start over training a new student from square one could get you a raise.

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