It’s easy to seek reward immediately for something you have done. Sometimes you get impatient and want that immediate gratification after pouring your hard work and dedication into something.
2018 was a rollercoaster of emotions. It was a year where I had my highest highs, but my lowest lows. I graduated with Honors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I walked the stage at graduation to shake hands with the chancellor and department heads. I had some of my best memories with my best friends. I secured a lab research job two weeks before I graduated, and was over the moon with where my life was headed. I did a postbac and met some of the most amazing people, both friends and faculty, from that program. I was beaming with confidence as I finished my postbac with straight As, while also volunteering at a new research lab on campus.
But 2018 was also filled with dark moments. My relationship with my family got even more strained as I tried to claim independence as a working adult. I got in an abusive relationship where I was just viewed as a sex object and a trophy to be shown off. My post-grad research job was an absolute nightmare and my mental health was down the drain. As I moved back home, I had to say goodbye to my closest friends I had met in college.
2018 was filled with existential crises as I tried to figure out what type of career I wanted to pursue. My dreams of pursuing a PhD and becoming a biomedical researcher were shattered as my abusive post-grad lab constantly told me I was a disappointment and was never enough. I was so burned out from working 60+ hours/week plus weekends that my brain seemed to have slowed down. I didn’t have mental clarity and couldn’t think at work. I convinced myself I could not have a future in STEM because my brain couldn’t operate at a fast enough rate. I felt so lost and had absolutely no idea what direction to take my life.
It’s 1 month into 2019, but 2019 has taught me the importance of delayed gratification. I began my job search at the start of 2019 as soon as I finished my postbacc, and was flooded with emails and phone calls from employers. At one point, I was having dozens of phone interviews in a week and going to on-site interviews almost everyday of the week. I got a handful of job offers from biotech companies interested in hiring me as a research associate. I remember one of the scientists on the hiring team told me I deserved it due to how hard I worked in the past.
While working on my resume, it didn’t seem like I had a lot of skills. I felt like a “jack of all trades but master of none” as I had worked in 4 different research labs in my 2.5 years of experience in research, ranging from molecular biology and genetics, to oncology, to biochemistry, to microbiology. But upon accepting a job offer, I thought back to all those countless hours I spent in research labs as a volunteer undergraduate research assistant. I poured my heart and soul into my research projects while being a college student maintaining straight A’s, and realize now that I’m being rewarded for the hard work I put in. I thought back to all those times where I learned to juggle several experiments, often running around the lab trying to do everything as efficiently as possible. Now at my new job, the work load is a breeze and multitasking is second nature to me, because it is not nearly as intense as the multitasking I was expected to do back in academia. I used to hate working in academia and strongly hated my post-grad lab, but am now thankful that those labs trained me to become a more efficient scientist with the ability to multitask with ease.
I’m starting 2019 at a new job and extremely thankful for all the hard work I put in these last couple of years. It certainly was not easy to get to this point, but it was worth it to wait a couple years before I got to reap the benefits of all my hard work. No, I still don’t know where I want to take my career. But maybe I have it in me to give science and research another try.