My first lab experience was in a lab on a really strict budget: no kits, no technicians, no media kitchen, or glassware washing service. We really had only minimal resources. I was close to paranoid about not wasting one tip or glove. Later, when I started in other labs, I spent my first days going around saying “Oh so you don’t reuse this? Not even that? No?”. I felt inadequate in a lot of ways, since I was used to spending so much time washing glassware instead of producing more results, and working with old-fashioned technology instead of fancy machines. But if you’ve been in my place, then you have probably picked up some skills along the way, so don’t underestimate them and don’t hesitate to flaunt them.
You are Good with Time and Project Management
Since you are the one person who alongside with doing their experiments, also prepares all stock solutions, media, sterilizations, husbandries, and places the orders too – you must be good in managing your time and projects. You know how to plan and think of a lot of people’s needs. Plus, all these additional “chores” take time, and require extra planning, but you still manage to do it all and get that paper too. So good job!
You Know How Stuff Really Works
Well hopefully you already know what’s in each buffer and how you get your measurements. But for me as a student, it is very helpful making all the buffers from scratch and knowing what exactly is in them and why. I know how to shake films myself in the developer and see my protein bands appear. I do not need kits. All this manual experience gives you valuable insight and comes in very handy when it comes to troubleshooting an experiment.
You Are Creative More Often Than Not
Whether it is preparing and organizing your solutions into a home-made kit or arranging complex layouts featuring your equipment, plus duct tape, you know how to devise your own solutions to your problems. You are both intellectual and creative.
Collaborations always help save some money and you know how to initiate such when you need to. In the end, a co-authorship paper is potentially better than what your lab can do on its own. And maybe this means that more money will come along your way and your collaborator’s too. That’s a win-win. You are also now part of a network of friendly colleagues that can help each other during the lean times.
Nothing Scares You Now
By now you are probably thinking “Really can it get any harder than this?”. In my experience, it really doesn’t. When somebody tells me “Things aren’t working in the lab right now”, I most likely say “I know what you mean, and this is what you can do about it”.
Plus I’m quite sure your new boss will appreciate you saving them some money!