March 03, 2024, 04:47:37 AM
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Topic: Professional Adequacy - need advice  (Read 4310 times)

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Offline lablackey

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Professional Adequacy - need advice
« on: March 04, 2010, 12:17:32 PM »
I have a pretty broad question for any science student or professional out there.

Do you ever just feel like you're dumb?

I have a B.A. in chemistry from a good school and I've worked for nearly 13 years in the research department of a company that makes corn starch.  I'm clearly intelligent enough to have done my job and done it reasonably well, but there's are things I'm clearly not good at.   :-[

I have terrible problems with dilution factors.  If we're talking C1V1 = C2V2 I've got it down, but start going: dissolve 50 mg of X in 100 mL of water, take 10 mL of that, treat with 3 mL of peroxide, spin it down, inject 50 microliters into the IC and I am lost.

I hate it when standard methods only show the abbreviated calculations because if you have to change the sample size or preparation method than I have a hell of a time altering the calculation as needed. 

All right, now that I'm done self-flagellating for the time being, I do have a question.
What the heck am I supposed to do to get better at some of this basic crap I clearly never mastered?  I feel like I need a tutor, or at least a really comprehensive textbook.

Please forgive my emotional flailing, but I seriously wonder if I shouldn't be in another line of work.  I love being in the lab, but maybe I'm just not good enough.

Offline Mitch

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Re: Professional Adequacy - need advice
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2010, 01:54:56 PM »
I'm sure you probably learned chemistry very well. It can be embarrassing to make a dilution factor error in front of your boss or colleagues.

It sounds like you need practice with algebra-based word problems. I'm not sure what resources are available for that, but you definitely don't need to relearn G-chem or anything. You just need more practice manipulating variables and equations in word form instead of equation form.
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Offline renge ishyo

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Re: Professional Adequacy - need advice
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2010, 11:43:37 PM »
Do you ever just feel like you're dumb?

Oh yes, all the time. I certainly wasn't born brilliant (incredibly good looking to be sure...but not brilliant ;). At the same time, my attitude is that if I can just spend more time on a hard problem then I can get the same result that a "smart" person might get quickly if I just keep hacking at it long enough. One thing that is very important in chemistry I feel is to practice solving many different types of problems in the books ON YOUR OWN in a very quiet place before even trying to do things for real in a working lab environment.

A good analytical chemistry book should have plenty of problems of the type you mentioned with varying difficulty for you to practice on. If you can do all of the sample problems on paper first in the peace and quiet of the practice room, then when it comes time to do the real thing in the lab, with all these distractions going on, you won't get thrown so easily. I still to this day always do out all the calculations I am going to do at home in silence and go through the entire lab in my mind to make sure I understand every step before I go in and collect the "actual" data from the lab. This prevents that "lab confusion" from eventually getting to me, because I've done the "thinking" already.

And if you need help on this problem or that while you are practicing, well that's what places like this are for :)

Offline stognerb

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Re: Professional Adequacy - need advice
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2010, 08:40:46 PM »
I am an undergrad in my 2nd year. I am starting to have this  problem.  I used to be able to get anything without trying at all but as soon as i start caring about my schooling it is like I can no longer get anything without massive effort.

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