27 and a PhD

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Admin stuff

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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Dear profs and techs (all other staff people that fall in this category) everywhere:

You have my admiration, really. You are awesome for dealing with all this admin crap in order to keep science running smoothly. No, really. I’m not being sarcastic, I promise.

DFS, the last two weeks have given me an ulcer (well, almost, thankfully no, but mentally at the very least). The boss went to a conference and left me in charge of tracking down some piece of equipment that was coming from a foreign country. Said piece of equipment went through a company that takes care of all sorts of importation issues (customs, paying duties, dealing with all that). But that still didn’t let me off the hook. We had some engineer coming to install said equipment, and the poor guy got here a whole day ahead of the piece of equipment, since this import/logistics company had to file a bajillion forms of crap to declare and bring the equipment legally and have everything in order.

At the end of these two weeks most of the admin people in said company and I were on a first name basis. I had to bug them so much, it was amazing they were still smiling and courteous.

In addition to that I had to get approval to have the equipment shipped from said foreign country on time, arrange for payment, for delivery to our lab, and a bunch of other stuff.

I’ve been trying to keep my boss, the admin people, and the engineer happy. It’s been tough. I’m exhausted. This is why I’ve been away from Twitter and the blog, and why have I been barely responding to emails. It’s been incredibly draining. Dear PIs and other people that take care of every single piece of equipment that comes into a lab …. I admire you, and I have even more respect for you guys.

It’s been an uphill battle. And hopefully after the installation and some testing, the equipment will be signed off and ready to use by the rest of the lab peeps, and that will be the end of it. But OMG what a nightmare it’s been. And on top of it all, I’ve also done my job, from collecting data to dealing with 4 broken pieces of equipment, and booking people, and all the other tasks that come with the job.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to have things moving, and I love seeing new equipment, working in order and all signed off. But it’s an incredibly long, hard process. Especially with non-US based purchases.

If doing all this has a name, let me know. I think I’ve mastered it and need to include it as one of the new skills I’ve acquired at work.

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