27 and a PhD

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Holiday gift(s) from the boss

Lately I’ve been thinking about my days back in grad school. Those 6 or so crazy/fun/weird/sad/meh/whatever years I spent working my tail off to have a series of projects that made sense and made me happy.

The holidays were (and still are, except for this year) my all-time favourite season. I love the blinking lights, the decoration, the special drinks that only come out at this time. Heck, I even like bundling up, and how my cheeks get all rosy (or red).

My other favourite part was/is gift-giving. I always liked guessing what other people would get me (or drive hon crazy while trying to find out). I also liked getting unexpected surprises from friends, family and sometimes total strangers. And I always loved the expression of surprise and delight in people’s faces when they opened their gifts.

A few days ago a co-worker and I were having a conversation about gift-giving and bosses. Our boss is a bit stingy (I’m still not happy with my salary, it could be better, and I’m partly blaming it on being a woman … but that’s for another post). I was asking my co-worker if the boss ever gets the lab anything, like maybe lunch, or a bottle of wine/champagne to share. My co-worker looked at me all puzzled. He was surprised because he says he’s never received a gift from any of his bosses/mentors. And he sure doubts it will ever change.

I then became the puzzled one because, as far as I can remember, whether for my birthday or the holidays, most of my bosses have made an effort to give a little something. I remember getting a little card and a small gift from some of the students in my first summer undergrad lab. Then, on one of my internships, I got a book and ice-cream with the boss and labbies. In grad school my mentor had the lab sign a birthday card and I have a few of those. We also had a nice lunch after a paper was accepted or after a defense. During the holidays, the boss would call each person into their office, say some nice words about the performance/papers/career and hand a gift, usually a certificate (in the 25-50$ range) and some sweets or an ornament. It always made me feel special. And it I thought of it normal. When I moved on to my postdoc, my mentor would invite us over for dinner at his house, and get everyone a little something, whether a bottle of wine, a sweet or an ornament. And there were more than just a few of us, so money was definitely not an excuse. He’d also buy the first round of beer on special occasions, like a paper, a thesis defense or a goodbye get-together.

My coworker said I was lucky … and that apparently I’m one of the very few that ever crossed paths with people who are into giving gifts, or making a bit of an effort to show some appreciation to their minions lab.

This also brought to mind that a fairly new professor at work, who is a collaborator, has gone out of their way to show appreciation towards us, the staff. This person brought personalized cards and sweets for individual lab members and has shown a lot of kindness … just because we’ve been doing our jobs. Said token of appreciation brought memories of my old days in grad school, and how I could always count on my boss to cheer me up during the holidays. Having a little token made up for the times I was frustrated or irritated, or when I couldn’t go home and had to work throughout the holiday season.

Did you (or do you) get gifts/tokens of appreciation from the boss/higher up during the holidays? If so, what’s your favourite? If not, do you think it would make a different in how you percieve this person? As a mentor, do you go out of your way to show your lab peeps appreciation? Do they go out of their way to do the same? How do you feel?

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Getting “high” on research

I don’t know what’s going on, but for whatever reason I’ve been “high” for a couple of days. Ever since the boss OK’d my going on vacay in a few weeks (2 weeks, 2 whole weeks, end of June, here I come!!) I’ve been on cloud 9. I can barely contain my happiness. But I guess it stems from the fact that the boss is also “high.” A few students have defended recently, plus we’re getting new students for the summer (and maybe 1 new grad student), and I know he’s going to a conference in Eastern Europe later this year … but that’s pretty far out, thus I really don’t know the reason for why the boss is SO happy. But regardless of the cause, he’s happy, he’s excited and consequently people in the lab have a better attitude.

I’m blessed to have really cool lab mates who are quick to offer a helping hand and sound advice when things aren’t working. And we all get along. There’s not a single person in my lab (now) that I don’t like. My office-mates are cool. In general, life in the lab is really good. I have to say that pretty much every single lab I’ve worked in has had a good dynamic. Sure, we all have our days, and sometimes we get along better with some people. But overall, I have to give thanks to the high heavens that things have been very positive everywhere I’ve conducted research. (more…)

Last search terms for a little while

I LOVE doing the “search terms” entries. As evidenced here, here, and here. I truly enjoy swifting through the terms that users have used and land them on my little corner of the blog-o-sphere. But it takes a bit too much energy at times, and given the fact that somehow, someone tried the term “gary sinise naked pictures” and landed on my blog, I’ll go into a hiatus.

Nahhh, that’s not the real reason. I love this blog. I do. I enjoy interacting with others, however few you are. I love checking my WP stats and dishing on details about all things grad school. But I’ve been off my medication (see here), and the stress is getting to me. I’m totally pissed off most of the time, I feel like I hate my job, and sometimes I can’t even stand to interact with the people that I love the most. So, for the next 2-3 weeks I’ll be off, getting back on my meds and suffering through yet another menstrual cycle (ain’t biology a bitch!?).

But for now I want to finish off the last few search terms for this cycle. Here they are:

  1. How to become independent postdoc – I frankly don’t have a clue. Why? Because I’m still trying to figure it out myself. I was extremely dependent on my PhD boss for everything. The person was a GREAT micromanager, and I got used to it (who wouldn’t after almost 6 years in their presence). BUT my new boss is very laid back and loves when people pitch ideas and show him experiments to try. Trouble is I can’t do that! I don’t know how to do it, I never truly learned it. Plus I get all stressed that he’ll think I’m a total idiot. Therefore I abstain from bein g adventurous. I’m also not excited about the part of work I’m doing right now (I hate growing things), and seeing as I’m a few days away from getting my monthly gift, I feel bad, I feel worthless, pissed and not motivated at all. I guess that once you’ve defined you want to do a postdoc, start working on the traits or characteristics future (and maybe even present) PI’s would look for. Motivation, excitement, passion, drive and respect are among the few you should cultivate. Also, try to mold yourself into the kind of person others like to work around, be careful, considerate and trustworthy. Those are my 2 cents.
  2. (more…)