Go out with your lab mates. I don’t mean date them (ew…lab-cest); but, when they have group events or happy hours, go out with them. I know this may be surprising, but you’re part of the lab too.
It was hard for me to accept this idea at first. I mean, these are graduate students and professors, they probably don’t want to be caught dead hanging out with a stinky undergrad, right? They probably talk about nuclear astrophysics like it’s nothing, meanwhile I can count to potato.
Here’s a secrete, though: they’re actually human. Shocker.
The first time I went out with my lab mates, we went to my PI’s house for his going-away party. I got to see them laughing, dancing, and (some of them) drunk – needless to say, my mind was blown. Which is a good thing, because if you only ever see your coworkers at work, you’ll only ever associate them with work. I’ve always enjoyed the company of my coworkers, but it wasn’t until then that it finally clicked: they aren’t just coworkers and mentors, they’re actually my friends:
So if there’s anything to take away from this, it’s that you shouldn’t sell yourself short of the lab/research experience. Yes, research is a big part of being in a lab, but it is NOT the only part. Get to know these amazing people you work with!
PS – Here’s the gift I made my PI. His reaction: “That’s me 20 years ago! I look great!”