June 2017

The Perks of Meeting for the First Time teaser image
The first blog; the first article that you are reading from me; the first impression you are going to have of who I am; I definitely feel the pressure: woe is me!
This article was born sitting on the plane on my way to Reykjavík, Iceland–I will be spending the next two weeks in Darmstadt, Germany; in Manchester, United Kingdom; and in Amiens, France with the company of a co-worker and my Ph.D. supervisor. During this two weeks trip, I will be meeting with collaborators, and prospective collaborators, which I feel thrilled about, albeit nervous.
These are the opportunities for which every grad-student (or professor, for that matter) should prepare for. Doing experiment in the lab is crucial, yes, we all agree; however, it is not until you get to communicate these findings where the real science happens. The conversations that transpire during these meetings are what actually make us grow as scientists and as professionals in this career; so, what’s the problem? Why is it so difficult to start a dialogue with someone that you don’t know?
The short answer: we are terrified of the chance that people will find out who we truly are. The way I figure, it is on this fear where we should lay the foundation to build new friendships, i.e., this fear will always exist and we should accept it. It is through accepting our defects as a person (and as a scientist) where relationships and collaborations can be developed. My Ph.D. supervisor has a beautiful story of how he got his post-doc: the first time that he met with his post-doc advisor was through a visit from the professor to the school where he did his graduate studies. When my supervisor applied to work with him, his post-doc advisor did not ask for an interview, he was sure he had the correct guy from when he met him before. We don’t know all the answers, we don’t know what is going to happen after the conversation, and we shouldn’t. One thing I know, when I introduce myself during the duration of this trip, I will make sure to show that I don’t know it all, but what I know they will need.

Luis R. De Jesús Báez | Chemistry

Luis R. De Jesús Báez is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the department of chemistry. He likes to write about the small things; those that are important but sometimes we forget due to our busy life. Let’s converse!

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