Lab employee must haves:

Winter edition

This past winter I started my first lab job as a lab associate at a pharmaceutical research company in southern California. Currently, I am working on a few clinical projects one of which is an assay used to diagnose those with Covid-19. This being my first lab job meant I was introduced into a new environment that uniquely dealt with infectious agents — which… I was not prepared for.

Here is a list of a few things I wish someone told me to consider purchasing before I started my job during the winter season:

  1. Fleece jacket
  • Why: Depending on what type of lab you’re working at, lab settings can be pretty cold. I found it useful to have something lightweight, comfortable, not bulky yet keeps you warm especially under lab coats.
  • Pros: light weight, easy to throw on/off, not bulky
  • Cons: Expensive

2. Thermal Wear

  • Why: For the same reasons as above but useful if you don’t want to wear outerwear in the lab setting.
  • Pros: can wear under anything,
  • Cons: not easy to throw on/off if its your most bottom layer, may get a little too hot i.e armpit areas

3. Quality sneakers

  • Why: Working in a lab could mean standing on your feet all day, constant walking between machines in different rooms all day, or it could even mean sitting all day. I found that I did my best work when I was comfortable so that I could focus on the more important things.
  • Pros: comfortable, good for posture, not loud on lab floors, these days depending on your pair can be stylish
  • Cons: sacrificing professional look, expensive

4. Chelsea boots

  • Why: For days that you want to look more professional, whether it be for meeting days or interviews with clients, or maybe for a day you’d like to look more put together I suggest a nice pair of Chelsea boots. Just throw on a simple outfit and these boots will instantly pull your look together.
  • Pros: professional look
  • Cons: heavy, loud

5. Smart watch

  • Why: Working in a lab means you cannot always have your phone on you — whether it be because you’re working with infectious agents or corrosive reagents. This type of job also requires you to stay in touch with your supervisors and coworkers all day. At the same time, as mentioned you also need to work with multiple machines usually in different rooms. You may also need to do quick calculations. With a smart watch not only can you stay connected, use basic functions like timers and calculators, but you can do whatever else you need on voice command!
  • Pros: connection, basic tools: timers, reminders, choice to download other useful apps that you may need, voice command
  • Cons: expensive, caution: magnetic part may cause problems, can be distracting

6. Wireless earphones

  • Why: There are times of time when you need to or get to work alone. During those times listening to your own music, podcasts, or having the option of noise cancelling can help with concentration and increasing productivity.
  • Pros: Voice command, noise cancelling, phone calls, being wireless helps with preventing any “wire” messes..
  • Cons:expensive, can get lost easily

7. Hand lotion

  • Why: Working in a lab means excessive hand washing which can dry your hands out — or opt for a hand sanitizer that also moisturizes at the same time
  • Pros: small, moisturizes, inexpensive
  • Cons: Need to have it in hand for everytime you wash-up/sanitize- single function

8. Visine eyedrops

  • Why: Whether you’re looking at a computer screen for extended periods of times or reading emails, articles, etc. a lab job can be very straining on the eyes. Using eyedrops are extremely helpful in restoring moisture and also help in refreshening your eyes.
  • Pros: Small, inexpensive,
  • Cons: Only useful if you have access to it whenever you please — keep in your locker if work provides.

9. Hydro flask

  • Why: It’s very important to stay hydrated no matter what you are doing. It can make a difference in your mood and your productivity. Besides the importance of staying hydrated a hydro flask will keep your water at the temperature that you like to enjoy throughout the day.
  • Pros: temperature control, convenient handle
  • Cons: loud, expensive



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