What should students know?

Lorri Robinson robinson at avana.net
Tue Mar 19 17:48:57 EST 1996

> You are absolutely right - that is why it is so difficult to interview
> new job candidates.  We prefer ones with a heavy microbiology
> background, but hire mainly on attitude and personality as we know we
> will have to train them in virtually every aspect of a bench-level job.
> And despite their clear understanding, they will not be hired to run
> the laboratory with a bachelor's degree. 
> Scott Sutton

I agree with part of this answer--having a BS in your field does not prepare 
you to run a lab fresh out of college. When I got my first micro job, I was 
woefully unprepared to do any micro work, which I learned by the seat of my 
pants, since there was no one to teach me.

I believe though that I am extremely well trained and quite qualified to run a 
micro lab, and even set up one from scratch, since I now have 8 years' 
experience in the lab. Not all of us have the time or money to pursue a 
masters' or Ph.D. in micro, and I think dismissing the bachelors' degree 
holders with no regard for concomitant experience or ability is taking a very 
narrow view of the real world.

Having been downsized from my last position 2 weeks ago, I am now out in the 
job market trying to find a place in micro. It isn't easy, because so many 
places believe either 1) anyone can do micro, so let's hire a chemist to run 
our micro lab; or 2) anyone can do micro, so let's hire someone with a GED or 
high school diploma and let him read up on what he needs to know.

So I've been getting it from 3 directions now: either I'm not qualified enough 
to do a job I could do in my sleep (the MS/Ph.D. groupies), I've got the wrong 
major to do my job (the chemist groupies), or I'm too expensive (the GED/HS 

All of which makes microbiology into the red-headed step-child of the 


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