Week 2: The Highs and Lows

Two weeks in and I've already got my share of highs and lows working at The Matter Lab. This week is going to be a short article, explaining how I embraced both the highs and lows of doing research.

Key Takeaways:

(the section where you've only got time to read on your toilet)

  1. Never undermine doing mundane tasks.

  2. Keep your head up and be patient.

  3. Find ways to turn lows into highs.

The Start

I was extremely excited to start working at the Matter Lab, my first year dream accomplished. I quickly made lots of progress on my first project and I was incredibly proud of myself. Although I knew it was not a project that I was super passionate about, the implications of it and the lessons I learned along the way were enough to keep me afloat. However, I got the chance to meet other undergraduates in the group... They were amazing people and one of my peers was working on a project that aligned with my passion, optimizing automated chemistry. WOW, right? That's where the lows began. Internally, I drilled myself into a rabbit hole where I got upset at myself for not being on a project like that. How'd I get out of it? Well, I found ways for me to learn what I was passionate about because I'm not the type of person to let those things block me from where I want to be.

Uphill Climb

Before I got to the climb, I was lucky enough to have a graduate student offer me support and comfort for the situation I was going through. That really helped. On top of that, one of my mentors was always really helpful and he never felt like I was undervalued. Together, we talked a lot about his project and my own project which spurred an idea for me to learn machine learning (ML), the one thing I really wanted to get out of this research internship. At that point, he gave me inspiration and it turned my whole week around. I told my supervisor about this ML idea and he told me to come up with a research question, which I thought was very reasonable. However, he also told me to join this other ML project. You'd think, wow you got to join this ML project so problem solved! Well... I have to do some mundane tasks that would encompass nothing ML related. At first, I was flustered, confused, and anxious about the whole idea because it felt like my supervisor wasn't hearing me out. My internal struggle was serious and I went as far as thinking that work politics are so painstakingly annoying.

The Clouds Cleared

At the time, my vision was clouded by my emotions. However, once I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture, I saw what my supervisor was doing for me. Although I had to do mundane tasks, I was on an ML project! It really didn't matter what I was doing because my supervisor gave me the opportunity to learn ML. I instantly expressed my gratitude towards my supervisor and the future started looking bright again. The past week was a rollercoaster of emotions but I got a few things from it which made it all worth the struggles.

Although this is a small step, it's actually a large step because the step I took was in the right direction. (Thanks PK)

My next goal is to have a work-life balance as well as juggling my time and energy across multiple projects. Don't just work hard, work smart and hard.

Big shoutout to my mentor and supervisor for being incredible role models!

Thanks again for everyone who made it to the end! See you guys next week. Leave a like and a comment if you enjoyed living vicariously through me.

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