Msc Students and Interns

05-Sep-18, 21:31
edited about 12 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 9 months ago
Hi guys,

So I am in engineering, were there are for some reason lots of Msc students and interns who want to help with research. Normally the lecturer will give them work and guide them with the PhD student helping. My supervisor has recruited got both an international student intern and a full Msc student while not really having a plan for them. Instead she has offloaded them onto me and says "use them to help with your research". Plus I literally got told as they came, no warning.

The problem is how do you manage these people? I supposed to give them experimental work and let them be independent. Yet I planned a very linear PhD project assuming that I was doing all the work. At the minute I have them reading background papers with the intention of giving them some off topic work that might last 2-3w weeks. But I am struggling to find them a project for both of them that could last a few months and be useful.

I asked supervisor on what to work to give them and she said "I want them to focus on helping you as much as possible". To be honest I have never seen my supervisor in the lab, but I would at least expect her to have some idea on what to do. But no, I am supposed to find work for them, train them and supervise their work. It is so not my job, and yes I have supervisor issues.

Anyone else have any advice on how to manage these students? Or how much work to give them? Or how to even structure work for them? I have never assigned work to anyone or been an intern, I really have no idea what to do. Literally anything will be helpful.
05-Sep-18, 22:31
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 9 months ago
That sounds pretty mad! I mean, you'd think your supervisor would be thrilled to have the extra hands and be giving them stuff to do herself rather than expecting you to have a bunch of stuff to give them. I'm not in your research area, but in mine I would probably be inclined to give them some reliability coding to do (that would genuinely be very helpful) or let them pilot run some of my experiments (again genuinely very helpful). Not sure if either of those things would be applicable to your area / project.

Are there any other tasks you could do with help on? Even perhaps reviewing the literature in a given area and providing a summary of the relevant studies?

Also you could ask colleagues if they need assistance. That wouldn't be palming them off... it would be more exciting and interesting for them if they were able to do some work that really needed doing for someone.
06-Sep-18, 02:44
Avatar for Becky1210
posted about 9 months ago
I understand this is frustrating. I was a PhD previously and other graduate students in our lab also have fourth year student. Basically our supervisor do not expect any exciting results from them. In fact, is another way around, this is the teaching and mentorship experiences created for you to train you. For me, I have learned so much about myself strength, weakness, and because I have students following me so I was forced to pull off my best. Just at presence and professional with them, make sure they know what they are doing and learning. I would not plan anything big. Maybe just some very simple experiments that you needed to replicate? and then changes here and there on your protocol. Who know maybe you have some surprising results. You can always let them clean up or reading on their own.

We all hate having fourth student after the first around :P
06-Sep-18, 05:10
edited about 3 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 9 months ago
Personally I would go to my supervisor and tell her there was nothing for these students to do and that I didn't need any help at the moment. I would also tell her that I couldn't see a way to chip chunks of my work off to hand to them without it causing me delays amd disruption - the exact opposite of what she intended.

Maybe I am getting old but I just wouldn't stand for that sort of behaviour. Nobody gets to treat my time with such contempt.
Of course there are ways of getting that message across without being a dick but you need to learn to establish boundaries with supervisors because if you don't I guarantee she will do it to you again and again.


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