Tag Archives: pros and cons

Job Hunt, Part I

21 Mar

Yesterday I woke up, settled in with a delicious cup of pressed Ethiopian yirgacheffe (my absolute favorite coffee),  and knocked out three job applications before noon (like a boss!). Literally five seconds after submitting my third application, I received a phone call from the hospital I interviewed at last week. They said that I didn’t get the job  I had applied and interviewed for, but they did want to offer me another job:
Day shift in the microbiology department.

I was completely stunned. I was completely speechless as the cheerful human resources lady rattled off the benefits of the job, which were far greater than I had ever hoped for in a first job. Of course,  there were a few downsides. I told her I would need a couple of days to consider the offer before deciding.

So here is the good, the okay, and the bad:

The Good:

  • A lab with windows!!!! This is rare for hospital labs, especially in this state.
  •  $20,000 loan forgiveness, paid in $6,000 increments over 3 years. The money actually doesn’t have to go towards student loans. They don’t require a receipt, so it’s actually more of a bonus. It will be going towards my loans though.
  •  Full health benefits from a very reputable company
  • Paid time off, of which I can accumulate 23 days in a year, and use up to 20 of those days at a time.
  • $26/hour
  • The microbiology department manager seems incredibly intelligent and kind, and would make a good mentor. This is something I really, really want, more than anything else, in a first job. I don’t want to be stuck in a lab where everyone does their job and goes home. I want a lab where the coworkers aren’t afraid to teach, challenge, and nurture me. This may sound needy, but this is a field where there are only 2 people entering the field for every 6 retiring out of it, and has a huge generation gap (workers are either over 50, or under 30. There are very few in between). I believe that it is imperative that mentorships be formed, so that the knowledge of those 40+ years of experience can be passed on to the upcoming generation, who lacks such experience.  I seemed to impress the microbiology manager when I mentioned  Richard Lenski’s experiment with E.coli evolution, which caused one strain to utilize citrate.
  • The city is home to a university with a very impressive science program, so I can expand my education.

The Okay:

  • The shift is a day shift, which would make taking the university’s science classes rather difficult, unless I could eventually  a few weekdays off. There are very few evening science classes at this university. I may take a few evening art classes first, so I can meet people, and then after a semester or two, ask for a few days off to take daytime classes.
  • Microbiology department: I have a love-hate relationship with clinical microbiology. I absolutely love microbiology. The day-to-day of clinical microbiology can be frustrating at times. I am very inexperienced with it, and don’t catch on with it as quickly as I did bloodbanking. The perk is that it would allow me to specialize at the very beginning of my career. The risk is that I may struggle in the beginning. Also, as one microbiologist pointed out, it is much easier to transition out of micro into the general lab, than transition into micro from the general lab. There is an overwhelming amount of information you have to know at all times in the micro department, which is easily forgotten if you’re in the general lab and not using it. It’s easier to start in microbiology than trying to move into it after years of not doing it. This opportunity in microbiology, though challenging, would also make me a better candidate for Doctors Without Borders, who prefer medical laboratory scientists with a microbiology background.

The Bad:

  •  This is a 3 year contract.
  •  The city has extremely cold winters (-50F)
  • Even worse than the cold, is the darkness.  I am already prone to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and depression runs in the family. However, a few of my friends who have lived there assure me the darkness isn’t that much longer than the winter darkness of my current location.
  • I wouldn’t be in blood banking, which is one of my biggest passions. (I do have a passion for microbiology as well)
  • I will be in a city where I know nobody, and loneliness is my biggest fear. I sometimes have trouble making friends, as I can be shy at times (unless I’ve consumed enough coffee). Also, many people initially don’t know what to think about a woman who thinks E.coli and blood cells are cute. Apparently it’s not a common sentiment.


I’ve asked friends their opinion of my offer. The feedback has been enormous, and mixed. Most people in  my current location loathe the city where the job is located, because of its severe winters. Many are encouraging me to go. Others are jealous of the benefits, as well as a new grad getting a day shift (rather unusual in my field).  Some think that I should focus more on my life-long dreams of working abroad. Some think I should pursue blood banking, though others are quick to point out that blood banking jobs in my state are currently rather rare. So are micro jobs, and for me to have one like this is incredible. Some pointed out that having 3 years of experience on a resume will be impressive, especially in microbiology. They’re right. If I stick with this for at least three years, it will open up a lot of doors, especially if I want to pursue a masters degree in epidemiology.

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