Research jobs for recent college graduates : A comparison between traditional lab technician positions and NIH s postbaccalaureate IRTA fellowship .

J Taylor Herbert


The features that distinguish the Postbaccalaureate IRTA experience from a normal lab tech job are the enhanced educational opportunities, greater independence, more organized social outlets and networking opportunities, life in the DC Metro area, and the NIH itself. Also, research experience looks great on a CV when applying for research jobs or graduate schools, and the NIH name and Postbaccalaureate IRTA fellowship are impressive to potential employers and admissions committees. On the other hand, lab tech jobs often require fewer commitments outside of a normal 9-to-5 work day and usually have better pay and benefits than the Postbaccalaureate IRTA fellowship. In addition, working at a specific university often carries the benefit of being closer to ones family, friends, and/or significant others. Someone who does not like cities can choose to work at a university that has ready access to the beach, mountains, or regions of the country that are more personally appealing than the Washington, DC, area. Lab tech jobs also usually require at least a two year commitment, whereas the Postbac IRTA fellowship is generally a one year commitment (possibly two). Regardless of which option you choose, you should be active in searching for a job that lets you fulfill the goals you set for yourself in the years between graduating and starting graduate or medical school. Whether those goals are to publish, get experience, save money, or just enjoy yourself, with careful questioning and circumspection, you should be able to maximize the possibility that you will meet your goals.

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