Happy National Student Employment Week! Today we’re spotlighting one of the students who was nominated for a JHU Student Employment Award!
Julia S. is a freshman Cognitive Science major who has been working as a laboratory assistant at Dr. David Sidransky’s Laboratory at the Head and Neck Cancer Research Department for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine since the beginning of this school year. (Want a job like this? Here’s how to get one.)

Emily H.: What are your job responsibilities?
Julia S.: I am responsible for stocking common supplies, receiving orders, disposing of hazardous material (specifically flammable material), preparing pipettes for calibration, and troubleshooting malfunctioning equipment. Additionally, I handle the paperwork required for Material Transfer Agreements of our Head and Neck Cancer Cell Lines as well as for Loan Equipment Agreements to bring new equipment into the laboratory for testing. Overall, I help in keeping the laboratory clean and functioning efficiently.  Most importantly, I have to carrying out all of my duties under biosafety protocols and adhere to proper laboratory safety.
EH: What skills have you gained from this position?
JS:  I’ve learned a lot of administrative skills from this position. From attending general lab meetings to drafting formal emails to writing up inventories of reagents, a lot of the work I do has taught me valuable skills for group management. I have also gained a lot of laboratory knowledge working in the research setting.  I have had the privilege of working with excellent principle investigators and post-doctors to gain insight on the latest project. Additionally, I have learned foundation wet lab skills and basic biochemistry protocols.
EH: How has this position helped you adjust to life at Hopkins?
JS: This position has really helped me to learn how to prioritize and manage my time well. The lab can get really busy, with a long list of tasks that need to get done every day, so I have learned how to manage my time effectively to get the high priority tasks done first. These are helpful skills both in a work setting and academically.  It has been particularly helpful for my stress levels in general because it has taught me how to set realistic goals and not overwhelm myself with my own expectations.
Additionally, the laboratory setting has aided me in exploring my own goals for research. The exposure to wet lab has been very influential in determine what type of lab I would like to do my own research in, and prepared me on topic of general lab protocol to ensure my success in the future.
EH: How has working shaped your Hopkins experience?
JS: My job has provided a network academically and professionally that will be very useful for my studies and future profession, but my co-workers have also become part of my support system at school. Many of them are familiar with the pre-med track and are able to offer valuable guidance. The job itself has helped me develop a practical sense for what I would like to do with my life after college. It has also been nice to get away from strict classroom academics and has ensured that I do not get bogged down by classroom style learning.
EH: Do you have any advice for job-seeking students or younger student employees?
JS: Apply early! Especially if you lack experience, applying early in the year or semester shows your true interest and dedication. I felt like I was at a large advantage getting into the lab early and it curbed my nerves about not having a lot of knowledge. Also, know your skills and use them to your advantage. Even if your background is not in line with where you want to work, don’t let it stop you from trying because you likely have skills that can be applied to the field.  A positive attitude and abundance of energy is your best tool!
EH: Any final thoughts?
JS: The experience of working has been incredibly influential in motivating me through school. It has given my a lot of inspiration in what I would like to do academically and professionally. My favorite days of the week are the days I go into the lab, I find a lot of support and guidance there.  My favorite part is that everyday is something different and new.  Everyone I encounter is happy to be there, which has a very positive impact on the work environment.
Hey Class of 2021 – watch this space at the end of the summer to get a head start on your freshman fall job search just like Julia did!

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