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July 2, 2013 at 12:47 am #11681SciencetechKeymaster
Thanks Iceman, excellent description of the lab manager position!July 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm #11682DedEyeMember
Dedeye, I’ve been a Lab Manager at Palmer for 2 winters and for a Winfly at McMurdo. If you have a general science degree, say a BS in Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, you name the science, you should be fine, especially with experience working in a lab. I had 5 years of lab experience doing cancer research, when I was hired, no real managerial experience. Having some work in customer science, might help with the job as well, since you are basically there to make the grantees lives as stress-free as possible with regards to things in the lab.
You’ve identified one of my main weaknesses actually, My degree is in Middle Eastern Studies and I’m light on science coursework. I doubt an intro course in Astronomy is enough to even warrant mention. That said, by the time I apply I should have four years of lab experience/management, and my primary responsibilities tends to be “make the scientists’ jobs easier.”
So it is one part science admin, one part MacGyver, one part customer service (babysitter), and one part inventory specialist (at Plamer). Both stations, are similar but different when it comes to the Lab Manager position. At Palmer, you do a lot more, since it’s smaller and there is no science cargo department, you’re it, you receive the cargo, label it, stock it, and distribute it. At McMurdo, in the summer at least, there’s 3 Lab Assistant Managers, with 80 science groups or more going in and out of Crary and all of the science cargo and materials have their own people/departments to handle that.
It really sounds like you’re describing my job now :). When deployed, the whole “make do with what you have” concept is the name of the game. Being flexible and ready to perform “hey you” missions is likewise a given. At home, I’m responsible for hand receipts (inventory control and accountability) for hundreds of different pieces of equipment.
I imagine competition for the Lab Assistant Manager positions is just as intense as for the Lab Manager slot? As with my last application, my main goal is to get down there; position is less important.
At both stations you make sure the science groups are practicing good lab safety and following the chemical hygiene plan. Also at both stations you make sure they are using their Rads (radioisotopes) properly and within their permit. It’s kind of like a babysitter, making sure they (the grantees) cleanup after themselves, and they don’t take over areas (other lab space) that were no allocated to them. Both stations have their own maintenance staff in case things break or go down in the labs, and you might help them out if needed, depending on the situation. When things go smoothly, it’s great, when things don’t go smoothly, that’s where the job gets interesting, the biggest thing is to not get stressed out, even if a PI is screaming in your face.
Adherence to safety protocols, GCP and chemical hygiene plans are some of my strong suits and duties at my unit. I took a course on Ionizing Radiation, for what it’s worth, so dealing with Rads isn’t a completely foreign concept.
By this point, I have ample experience keeping cool while people are screaming at me :D.
How to get a Lab Manager job at either station, that’s where some luck is needed. Obviously with your science/lab manager background/experience, that is perfect for the position, next you need an opening, which can be tough, especially when people keep wanting to come back. Even if someone isn’t coming back, “they” (the hiring managers) might hire someone who did the job 3, 5 or even 10 years ago, who wants to come back into the program, before they hire a newbie, is that fair? It is, what it is. I lucked out and they wanted to go in a new direction and I was hired in early February and on the ice in late March, my first year at Palmer.
Just getting in the door is my biggest concern and recognized stumbling block. When I tried to get hired by RPSC, the hiring managers warned me that about 60% of positions were staffed by returnees. Great once you’re in, not so convenient when you’re first applying. It’d work out great for me if/when I’m hired!
My best advice is to apply in 2015 for summer and winter lab manager positions and hope for the best.
That’s the plan. Thanks again for all the info!
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