Conducting Successful Lab Rotations

Welcome, first-year students!

If you're a first-year student doing lab rotations, this page is for you. It was made through a collaboration between the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) and the Graduate Division.

We want you to succeed! We'll walk you through the what, how, when, and why of rotations and provide tips for how to navigate your rotations so that you can find the right lab for you. To learn more about this page, do exercises with peers across different programs, and develop your own strategy for successful rotations, come to the annual September workshop! (Registration link posted in August)


The problem we are trying to solve

Students join labs that aren't a good fit for them. It happens every year, because it's hard to know what to look for when you're rotating and joining a lab. That's why we made this page. A bad fit can prevent you from achieving your goals, so it's well worth it to take time now to understand how to identify a bad fit. Taking a few extra minutes now is much easier than trying to do your work in a lab that's a bad fit, or switching labs later on. Plus, it's a skill you'll use when finding positions in the rest of your career!

If working in a lab that's a bad fit is so terrible, why do people do it?
There are three reasons students join labs that aren't a good fit:

  1. They didn't look for signs of a bad fit,
  2. They didn't see the signs of a bad fit, or
  3. They denied that the signs they saw were valid.

Watch our short video so you don't make the same mistakes!


UCSF offices that can help you conduct successful rotations

Schedule a 1:1 appointment with the Office of Career and Professional Development for:

  • Identifying your goals or values
  • Finding suitable rotations
  • Navigating a new lab environment
  • Developing strategies for successful rotations
  • Preparing for difficult conversations
  • Choosing a dissertation lab

Schedule a 1:1 appointment with D'Anne Duncan, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Learner Success for:

  • Navigating graduate school and academic success
  • Balancing professional and personal needs
  • Identifying diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership opportunities
  • Managing interpersonal conflict
  • Navigating difficult conversations
  • Identifying UCSF resources

Schedule a 1:1 appointment with Learning Resource Services for:

  • Setting up a remote learning environment that works for you
  • Coaching for staying motivated and achieving goals remotely

Authors of this webpage

Rachel Care, PhD - Program Director, Office of Career and Professional Development
D'Anne Duncan, PhD - Assistant Dean for Diversity and Learner Success

Upcoming Events

Wed
24

OCPD Office Hours (for Graduate Students and Postdocs)

Date: July 24, 2024
Time: 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Wed
31

OCPD Office Hours (for Graduate Students and Postdocs)

Date: July 31, 2024
Time: 4 - 5 p.m.
Mon
05

OCPD Office Hours (for Graduate Students and Postdocs)

Date: August 5, 2024
Time: 2 - 3 p.m.
Wed
07

Career and Professional Development Writing Retreat

Date: August 7, 2024
Time: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.