I'm doing research this summer. It's not any research. It's cancer research, which automatically makes people think it's important research. This means I'm getting paid by my medical school to work with a faculty mentor full time for seven weeks.
It's actually epidemiology research that's sort of related to cancer but not really. To most people, that sounds a lot less impressive than cancer research because they don't know what the hell epidemiology is about. (Wait, I don't know what epidemiology is...) It actually means that I wait around for my mentor to give me some numbers that I can make into a diagram, textbox, or table and put it in a powerpoint slide. My chief job responsibility is formatting a powerpoint slide that's to be a poster and writing the manuscript for a paper that I really don't understand.
I'll be getting a W-2 this year! This is the first paying job I've had since ... summer 2009? I had forgotten about the magic that is direct deposit.
Does anyone have experience carrying a large poster tube on the airplane? Please get in touch with me. I will have to do this in about a month's time.
The good news is that I felt a little less incompetent during my weekly meeting with my research mentor and Skype call with her collaborator, an epidemiologist at the University of South Carolina). Usually It was not because I contributed meaningfully to the discussion between my mentor and her collaborator because another (soon-to-be) second year student was there who seemed just as clueless as I was.
I've been reading a somewhat famous blogger on the med student blog circuit, Action Potential (http://apotential.wordpress.com/), who wrote about her summer research frustrations here. She's funny.