As a pre-med student, I knew at some point I would need to work in a lab to add that extra “oomph” to my resume for medical school. I’ll never forget the day I was walking to my Bio 2 class, and there was a sign on the door for a lab looking for summer volunteers. I submitted my resume, had an interview, and got the position. Of course, as a freshman, I was super excited and was one of the first of my friends to be working in a lab. Fast forward 3 years later and I was ready to get out and be done with lab work. I had taken on an honors thesis project to end my senior year and was miserable. I remember crying all the time because I was just so tired, and this wasn’t how I expected to spend my senior year.
After graduating I took some time off then started to look for a job. I decided I would use my chemistry (I have dual degrees in biology and chemistry) degree and work for a cosmetic science company. Long story short, I only lasted 3 weeks there but I was so happy to be gone from that job. I tried going the health administration route and that was just as miserable as being a chemist. I remember vividly talking to my mom, telling her how unhappy I was, but knowing that I needed a job to pay for my student loans. At the time I started applying for lab jobs because I had so much experience, was good at lab work, and was determined to find a job I wasn’t miserable at. I got the golden email to come for an interview at the University of Maryland School of Medicine for a clinical research assistant position, aced my interview and the rest has been history.
I currently work on a project in which we bring in surgeons and look at their surgical skills in regard to trauma procedures on limbs. I’m not exactly working in a lab (unless you count a cadaver lab as one) but I absolutely love what I do. It took about 6 months to find what I wanted to do, but with a lot of persistence and dedication I got to where I am today. I would advise anyone who is unhappy with their current job to never give up. Find something you love within your field and do everything in your power to find that job. If you lack experience, go above and beyond to find internships, volunteer positions, etc. because in STEM we all know that ones’ experience and background is very important. It may take months or years, but you’d so much rather be happy than miserable at the end of the day.
Check out Lorreen’s non profit organization, Kisumu Girls Empowerment and Health, located in Kisumu Kenya.
Lorreen Agandi is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Biology (Honors) and Chemistry. She currently works as a research assistant at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is pursuing a Masters in Cellular and Molecular Biomedical Science.