I’m a college senior at a public liberal arts college. Since I decided to major in biology-I’ve had numerous research experiences and worked in various capacities in the biomedical field. I’ve learned about medicine, and gained insights into specific scientific fields. I maintain that these experiences—as tech and lab bound as they can be--have provided me with skills that I can use for careers in just about any field of interest, business, science, restaurants… here’s why.
A lab is a business and its product is data. A lab is a restaurant and its main course, data. Being successful in a business is the result of organization, communication and hard work. Being successful in a restaurant comes from organization, communication and hard work. With most careers there is overlap in success. I think the laboratory is one of the places where everything comes together.
As a research assistant I have been charged with collecting and analyzing data. Doing so required a lot of organization and planning. Experiments don’t just happen. They occur around certain schedules. Results and procedures need to be recorded correctly. This is organizational behavior. Successful laboratory work allows researchers to return to a data set-weeks, months or even years later and be able to understand the findings and procedures. Data also drives business. The stock market is an example of a huge data set that drives businesses to make decisions, making sure this data is organized and recorded correctly allows for stocks to be traded and businesses to grow. Data can be seen in restaurants, keeping track of attendance and profits, it’s what allows the owner to make informed decisions in making a better eatery. Hand in hand with organization comes communication. Data can mean nothing no matter how well organized it is if it can’t be communicated properly.
Presenting in an auditorium or a conference center is way of communicating work. However, when it comes to success in a lab there is the written component of publishing papers. These papers are one way a lab can put their data out in the world. It’s their mode of communicating their product. Well communicated data can lead to funding and lab growth. Like in a lab, a business grows when its data is well communicated, budget proposals for a business can be one example of communicating data in a business. If a budget proposal isn’t easily understood, then it’s impossible to approve. The same goes in the lab if the work is not understood then it may as well not have been reported. To tie this into the restaurant example, if patrons don’t’ understand the menu then no one will order. Communication skills are absolutely necessary no matter what line of work you may be in.
As with anything worth gaining, hard work guides success. This fact doesn’t discriminate: the lab requires hard work as well as business and restaurants. Labs may not get funded without organized and easily communicable data and that comes from those working working hard. Businesses can’t get new budgets or hire new employees to grow without well-organized or easily communicable data. Restaurants too, in order to have happy customers there needs to be well organized and easily communicable data.
I’ve had many jobs in fields ranging from biomedical science to factory work to restaurants. I’ve noticed that in science these ideas are outright stated and explained, there are protocols for just about everything. In business as well as other fields they may not be so blatant.
There are many different career options for a college senior, having worked in labs and businesses alike has shown me that to succeed there a few basic skills that go a long way.
Maxwell Foisey is a senior at Keene State College.