Stepping Out Into the "Real" World

  Hello, let me start by introducing myself.
 My name is Jessie Sullivan, and I'm a member of Olin's newest class of
alumni, the Class of 2009.  I graduated this past May with a degree in
General Engineering with a concentration in Chemistry.  Now I, thankfully,
find myself employed in Boston by Massachusetts General Hospital.

  My official title is Research Technician
Laborator in the Center for Molecular Imaging Research/Center for Systems Biology.  I work in the Mouse Imaging Platform in the optical imaging core.  Basically,
my job is to have four machines (two FRI machines, one FMT machine,
and one BLI machine) that I know how to run and get fluorescence images.
 When a researcher needs imaging done on one of these machines, they
contact me and I perform the actual imaging for them.

  The transition from Olin to work has been both
difficult and fun.  For starters, it has been strange to mentally
transition my status-- I still frequently catch myself thinking of myself as a
student!  That is starting to get better though as it gets to be almost
September and I am not heading back to start school.  It is also
interesting and stressful to try to really become independent.  I wish I'd
paid more attention to the details of real world things like bills and whatnot
before I found myself dealing with them.  My family has been wonderful
though in helping me get started, even though they are so far away in California.

  Adjusting to everyday life as a working person
has mostly been a very positive experience.  I am very lucky in that
everyone I work with, especially those who are there every day, are extremely
kind and intersting people.  I was also lucky enough to get to shadow my
predecessor for about 7 weeks and really get myself fully entrenched in the lab
before he left.  Oddly enough, although Olin was very challenging in a lot
of ways, the first two weeks were a huge physical adjustment-- I guess my body
wasn't used to getting up and going that early in the morning.  The final
major adjustment was the male-to-female ratio.  The gender balance at Olin
wasn't something I appreciated enough! My lab has one other female technician
and a female post-doc, and that is pretty much it as far as people who are
there every day are concerned. I'm just grateful that everyone is so awesome
and all the men treat me as every bit their equal, which makes the gender
imbalance totally manageable.  And it doesn't hurt that I can hold my own
in conversations about most sports!
  As I mentioned before, things are going very well now and I'm
really glad I made the decision to take this job.  I'm even getting the
chance now to get involved in a project in more ways than just the imaging!

  I intended for this post to be mostly
introductory, and a little about the student to worker transition.  I plan
to talk more about my job, what it is like to be in a non-engineering field,
and what researching and academia are like in future posts.  Feel free to
e-mail me at or
post a comment if you'd like to ask me questions or tell me what you would like
to see in future posts!



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