Link Search Menu Expand Document

Relationships with others in the office

Other RAs

Whether you work for your PI alone or in a team, you may be working alongside other RAs in the same office or organization. Find them and talk to them! Having coworkers can make your job much more fun. You and the other RAs can help each other out by sharing coding tips, trouble-shooting issues, talking through research ideas, and more. The relationships you form with other RAs can be positive and supportive both while you’re an RA and beyond: you may end up going to grad school with your RA colleagues, working in the same place again in the future, or even collaborating on projects together.

Keep in mind that different RAs may have different boundaries and expectations for their work (see sections on your relationships with your PI and your work). It is natural to feel peer pressure to overexert yourself to keep up with the most visibly hard-working coworker you have, especially when you are new. Learn from your coworkers, but do your best to stick to your boundaries, not someone else’s: what works for them may not work for you, and it is unhealthy for everyone if you feed into a competitive environment with other RAs who could otherwise make for great company.

PhD students and postdoctoral researchers (postdocs)

As “junior” PIs

Although you were likely hired by a tenured or “senior” PI, you may also have “junior” PIs - that is, grad students or postdocs collaborating with your PI on the same project. Having a junior PI can be a very helpful intermediate level of supervision in both a professional and mentorship capacity: because junior PIs are closer to you on their professional journey than your senior PI, junior PIs are often more relatable, easier to approach, and more available to turn around detailed questions than your senior PI. Try to establish a workflow that incorporates the strengths of your junior PI to make your workflow more efficient - e.g. use your junior PI as a sounding board to help you filter out questions you may eventually take to your senior PI.

As officemates

If there are grad students or postdocs in your office, don’t be shy about talking to them! It can be particularly helpful to talk to the people who are one or two steps ahead of you in their professional journeys and gather any advice they can give you. Since grad students and postdocs tend to be less intimidating than people more senior in the field, it can be easier to go to them first with questions or ideas.

Senior researchers

Similarly, if there are other senior researchers in your office whose work you’re interested in, reach out and ask if they would be open to chatting about their work, your personal projects, or to get coffee. At worst, they’ll say no, and at best, you’ll find a new mentor.