Leaving lab in first 6 months

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Leaving lab in first 6 months

Postby Akshay » Sat Oct 10, 2015 11:02 pm

Hi everyone,
I recently joined a lab as a postdoc and when I arrived here for interview i found lab a good place. However, after joining I am now realizing that the lab atmosphere is not suitable. I initially thought it is just a phase because I change the country and experiencing a culture shock, but even after 6 months that uncomfortable feeling is growing every day. I want to now change my lab. I want to have some advise on how to do that. (1) Should I introduce myself in an email as a postdoc when I am applying for new position or just stating that I am a fresh PhD ?and (2) is it okay to tell my current PI at the time of leaving that I am not feeling compatible in the lab?. Any other tips if somebody have, would mean a lot to me.

Thanks a lot.

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Re: Leaving lab in first 6 months

Postby Dick Woodward » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:47 am

Perhaps you would be better off discussing your situation with the PI and asking for suggestions? I would be concerned that if you leave one lab for another and then find that the second lab is also not to your liking, you may end up going from lab to lab searching for perfection until you become unemployable.

Perhaps the first thing to do, even before you talk to the PI, is try to understand the reasons for your discomfort. Ask yourself if there is anything that you can do to relieve the discomfort. Going to a new lab can be a culture shock, and combining that with a new country can be pretty scary.

I would exhaust all other options before leaving.

Good luck.

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Dick Woodward
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Re: Leaving lab in first 6 months

Postby Craig B. » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:24 am

To answer your questions:

1) Be honest to your potential employers about the fact that you're a postdoc. Having a 6 month gap in your CV without an explanation won't help your case. I would just avoid going into unnecessary explanations about why you're leaving so soon until expressly asked and be sure to have a good explanation as to why your first postdoc didn't work.

2) It depends on your relationship with your PI. Saying too much too soon could completely sour your relationship and make it difficult to get anything out of your postdoc. On the other hand, your current PI's assistance could help you secure a better position.

My last suggestion is to make every effort to get something out of your postdoc that demonstrates your productivity. Short/aborted postdocs aren't particularly uncommon, and even middle-authorship manuscript lets people down the road know that you made the most of the opportunity.

And as Dick points out, do everything to figure out what went wrong and how you can improve things either in your current situation or going forward.
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Re: Leaving lab in first 6 months

Postby PG » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:42 am

First and most inportantly, never ever lie. If you get caught with a lie you are in trouble and will immediately not only not get that position that you are currently applying for but also risk building a bad reputation.

Second, I agree with Dick that your first step should be to discuss with your current PI. Ideally you can find a fix for whatever it is that is making you uncomfortable. When having this discussion dont talk about potentially leaving but focus on the actual issue that you are seeing. As when providing feedback give a few positive statements about the laboratory and then go into the potential improvements. Something like " I really like working in this laboratory and my collaboration with X is going very well. I think that I am making good progress in the project and expecially the result y is encouraging. There is one thing that I think we could improve to make this even better and that is...."

You can leave one lab already after a few months without doing major damage to your career assuming that you are going to a new position and that you get good references from that position but you cant repeat that process. If you are unhappy and want to leave also from your next lab things will start getting complicated.
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Re: Leaving lab in first 6 months

Postby K.B » Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:45 am

I pretty much agree with the points authors mentioned above. Quitting is never easy, and I would suggest you to give it a thought on what causes the discomfort. As you mentioned, you are in a different country, it might be a little tricky, several factors might have passively caused you the discomfort. As Dick mentioned, first ask yourself, what did you expect, what happened and how to solve the issue. Then talk to your PI, explain how you feel, and if you know the reason, add that to your statement. It is way better to express yourself beforehand to her/him about it than while leaving.
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