Laboratory Research Assistant 

(Female, Age 35) from Union City, CA

This is a REAL-LIFE job profile written by a Female aged 35 who works as a Laboratory Research Assistant in Union City, CA. We have removed all names and personal information in order to protect privacy. This professional kindly spent a bit of their time to complete one of our job profile surveys so that prospective job seekers like you could read their insights. Please excuse any punctuation or grammatical errors in this profile.

At a Glance

Current Job

Basic data on your current job

Job Title Laboratory Research Assistant
Salary $55,000
Other Compensation None Set
Hours/Week 40
Company Size (not answered)
Location Union City, CA
Years Experience 8 Years

Career Ratings

Opinions on your CAREER overall (i.e. not just your current job)

Years in Career 0
Education (not answered)
Income Rating 0 / 10
Interest Rating 0 / 10
Work-Life Rating 0 / 10
Fulfilment Rating 0 / 10

Current job Q&A

Describe the type of organization you work for.
University of California, San Francisco

Describe your job role and responsibilities.
Our laboratory’s focus is on pancreatic cancer, and we are currently investigating the predisposing role diabetes plays in this particular type of cancer. We are also investigating new research methodologies as to how to approach further laboratory research on this particular disease. As a research assistant in this position, I collect blood, malignant cancer samples, and non-tumor serum samples from patients, amplify DNA and RNA from these samples, and perform other basic laboratory duties that can easily be learned quickly.

Please list an additional benefits (beyond compensation) that you receive.
401K, dental benefits, medical insurance

Do you feel you are under/over or well/fairly compensated at your current position?

Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Please explain.
Yes and no. For the most part, this job requires constant seclusion in the laboratory basement, with minimal contact with the outside environment. I do however, work with fellow colleagues who work together to conduct research projects. And this is on a daily basis. I do sometimes resent being secluded in a basement kind of environment, but I am more excited about my job so I don’t mind.

Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?

Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?

Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it.
It is in an academic research campus, in a basement-like of setting. I love working here because there is continual interaction between researchers and I, even though I have minimal contact with the outside world for the majority of the day.

Please rate each of the following aspects of your current job on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest/best):
Income: 6
Benefits: 4
Hours: 8
Co-Workers: 7
Supervisors: 5
Job Title: 3
Level of Responsibility: 1
The Actual Work: 2

A day in the life of…

Please describe a typical workday for you in your current job:

5am to 6am
6am to 7am
7am to 8am
8am to 9am Arrival at the laboratory. I check my cells lines first, and then split the cells because they have already become confluent and have grown too much in the flask.
9am to 10am I take out some of my cancer samples, thaw them, and then proceed to perform a DNA extraction procedure and subsquent amplification procedure. This process will last me for the next 3 hours.
10am to 11am Still working on my DNA extraction procedure and subsequent amplification procedure.
11am to 12pm Still working on my DNA extraction procedure and subsequent amplification procedure.
12pm to 1pm Still working on my DNA extraction procedure and subsequent amplification procedure.
1pm to 2pm Still working on my DNA extraction procedure and subsequent amplification procedure.
2pm to 3pm I now have my samples ready. I store these samples for future usage in our frozen storage area. From yesterday’s experiments, my job now is to run gel electrophoresis on yesterday’s DNA samples just to observe the bands.
3pm to 4pm Still working on gel electrophoresis.
4pm to 5pm Still working on gel electrophoresis — there are 30 samples and two small machines, so it takes me quite some time.
5pm to 6pm Still working on gel electrophoresis — there are 30 samples and two small machines, so it takes me quite some time.
6pm to 7pm Finally, gel electrophoresis is done. I take pictures of the gels after staining them with SYBR Gold. After taking pictures, the day is over and I go home.
7pm to 8pm
8pm to 9pm
9pm to 10pm
10pm to 11pm
11pm to 12am

Table of Contents

How you got your job

How did you get your current job?
I found this position advertised on Craigslist.

What was the application process?
Submitted resume and cover letter

Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail?
Yes, I did have an interview for this job. It was about 20 minutes long, and was an individual interview. Quite standard for this type of job.

If you can remember, what questions were you asked during the interview?
1) Why do you want this position? 2) What skills can you bring to our laboratory? 3) Do you know anything about pancreatic cancer and why are you interested in pursuing this type of research? 4) Can you think of one time in your life where you were a leader of some sort?

Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain.
Yes, very much. I have no problems now.

Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
Yes, I learned how to follow the experimental protocols in this laboratory during the first few months on the job. But overtime, the same protocols are applied and it just becomes a part of my memory. Prior to this job, I also did an internship where I learned to pick up the basic skills of research, including pipetting, extracting DNA and RNA, replicating nucleic acids, maintaining cell lines, and freezing blood and serum samples.

Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain.
Yes, I have a bachelors degree in biological sciences and all of the research I currently do I have learned about as an undergraduate in college.

If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare for your job?
Yes, most definitely.

If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
Someone new to the workforce should at least acquire an associates degree in biological sciences or in biotechnology because that is the minimal requirement. I would also recommend doing some minor internships prior to applying for this position because only then can the individual pick up some basic laboratory skills that will come in handy on the very first day of the job!

What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours?
Technical skills are a must, but more importantly, organizational skills is also essential. Technical skills involve using pipettes, performing mathematical calculations, and knowing the protocols of how and when to extract DNA and RNA, etc. Organizational skills are also very important because sometimes the research can be quite tedious, and a simple mistake because of misorganization can ruin the entire experiment.

Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
At least an associates degree.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
Please make sure you are interested in this type of work, being secluded in a laboratory for 8 or 9 hours a day, and you truly enjoy working with human blood samples!

Long-term career plans

Is your current employment part of your overall career plan? Why or why not?
Yes, I am interested in a career in research. I plan on going back to school, after a long hiatus of course, to pursue a masters degree in genetics or physiology.

What are your current career goals?
Yes, I am interested in a career in research. I plan on going back to school, after a long hiatus of course, to pursue a masters degree in genetics or physiology.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?

Prior work history

Please list your most recent jobs prior to this current job:

Title Length Salary Description
Prior Job 1 Laboratory Assistant 3 Years 30000 Research was on oral cancer, and how tobacco smoke is a predisposing factor for this particular disease.
Prior Job 2

Educational background

Please list your educational background:

High School GPA:4

GPA School Degree
College (Undergraduate)
or Technical/Vocational
N/A UC Davis Biological Sciences
Graduate or Professional
(Masters or Doctorate)

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