Finding your feet in first year!

My name is Leanne and I am a first year biochemistry STP at Wolverhampton – something I am still getting used to saying! When I applied for the STP not one part of me thought I was going to be successful as I was fresh out of university. I decided to apply anyway for the experience, in the hopes I could eventually get onto it. Much to my surprise I was offered a place (very last minute, but that is a story for another time). From the very beginning I heard lots of mention of ‘imposter syndrome’ and I am definitely still feeling this at nearly 5 months in.
For me not only is this a new job, but also a completely new city. I don’t think I had even set foot in the West Midlands, until I came to have a look at the lab once I had been offered the position. It has been a major change for me and something I am still adjusting to. It is natural to miss home and you will have good and bad days. However, I feel extremely lucky in that I have an amazing training officer who made me feel super settled immediately.

Something that really helped me to find my feet was talking to other STP students from my cohort. A big tip from me would be to start or join your specialism specific WhatsApp group ASAP. Having this little community makes you feel less isolated as you can talk to people going through the exact same thing as you. Two weeks after starting the STP we had our university teaching block, with one week of this being in person in Manchester. My advice for this is to really get stuck in networking with your peers and make the effort to socialise with them outside of the lectures. Not only will these relationships benefit you now, but it is also good to have these long-standing connections for the future.

Pictured above is me and some of my biochemistry cohort at Bongo’s Bingo while we were at Manchester!

I also joined my local trainee network, the West Midlands HCS Trainee Network. I have already attended one of these events so far and this was again beneficial for networking and meeting people in other specialisms in my area. It is likely there will be people at your hospital working in different specialisms that you might not know about, and so events like this will help you connect with them.
It is completely normal to feel out of place and a spare part a lot of the time. Especially as you rotate through different labs (or other rotations) in your first year, it is hard to feel settled in your main lab as you feel like you are moving all over the place. Unfortunately this is just the nature of the training programme. Over time you will feel more settled, especially as you take on responsibilities (this is what I tell myself anyway!).

Overall, it can be very daunting and it may take you a while to adjust. However, the STP is an amazing programme with endless opportunities. So stick at it and throw yourself into everything, we’re all in this together!

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