How to find an interesting position, anywhere

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In the lab I got assigned a project that no one wanted.

The data is messy, there is no clear goal and I literally heard sighs of relief from those who passed it on to me.

Truth is, this is very common when you start any job, in industry or research. The new colleague gets the projects that others left out. It, however, doesn’t have to stay that way. Here’s how you can get projects you’re interested in, in any working environment. Continue reading

What makes research fun?

After 2 months back in academia, here’s an ongoing list of what I like in research:

  • Smart and interesting people to work with and engage in discussions with.
  • (Very) flexible daily office hours. Actually, so flexible that I can’t keep a rhythm and sleep at reasonable hours. So I’m looking for tricks. Here’s one I’m trying! It’s an app that matches the color of your computer/phone screen to the color of the sun, so you don’t glare at daylight in the evening.
  • Working on intellectually challenging projects.
  • A vibrant environment that is the student world.
  • Belonging to a community that does great things, but also sometimes silly and fun things. Look at this, last week a team created chickens with dinosaurs feet.
  • Cheap and healthy food, good sport facilities right next to the lab. Don’t be dismissive. Google wouldn’t spend so much money on this if it didn’t matter.
  • What else? pride, prestige, common misery, the lack of office politics? not dealing with bad bosses?

Continue reading

Is academia more risky than startups?

Yesterday I went to the “Business Ideas” workshop organised in Zurich by Venture Kick for the ETH startup scene.

There were talks by successful spinoffs like Aerotainment Labs and SwissLitho talking about their experiences which are all positive of course. And the challenges, and the freedom… Blah.

The most interesting thing I learned was why companies spend millions and millions in advertisement in big sport events. Did you know it was not only for the visibility? They’re in for the emotions: the high-stake, the suspens, the belonging. Positive and strong emotions. They want to be associated with that.

Anyway, while I was busy stuffing myself with free food I bumped into this guy, stuffing himself too. He must be a researcher, I thought. No one stuffs themselves at a networking event if they had a real salary. Continue reading