My undergrad- Updated!

I was assigned an undergrad to work with on my new project. Let's call her Kori*. At first, it was great to have someone to work for me but I was concerned about finding meaningful tasks for her to do. It sucks to process data files but on the other hand- I don't have to do it! Yea!!
Rt-H agreed processing was good for her to start with and she's been doing this for the past 3 or 4 weeks. Things were going smoothly, but she is crazy slow at doing anything. It sort of works out because it keeps me from having to find more work for her to do. Perhaps her slowness is balanced by her attention to detail you say? Nope. She skips files and overlooks important coding. I also have to work on the computer next to her (the only computer with my analysis programs) to ensure she doesn't watch too many music videos. Up to this point, all these things were merely annoying. Kori is nice, helpful and I appreciate her work. Her presence allows me to be doing other things and this is priceless.  

Well, today Kori took it to a new level. I asked her (via email because I was driving back from a weekend with the Grackle when she was to be in the lab) to cut and paste data from a bunch of files into one spreadsheet. In my email, I set up what the spreadsheet should look like. When looking over her sholder today, I see that she just made a list, in a spreadsheet, of the file names. No data anywhere. Nothing like what I asked for. Ugh. Luckily, it wasn't anything too important. 

How long does it usually take to know what a particular undergrad can be trusted with? Perhaps almost a year without dealing with students has skewed my ideas of what to expect and how much hand holding I need to do. If nothing else, I need to communicate a bit more about specifically what I need from Kori. Hopefully we will go back to moving forward, despite doing so at a snail's pace.

*After the Kori Bustard. Bustard come from the latin for 'slow bird'

UPDATE: Some of Kori's slowness and flakiness could be because she is a graduating senior this semester! If nothing else, I only have to work with her for a few more months. Rt-H was telling me about the young woman she is hoping to lure to the lab next year. She sounds really amazing student! 


Eugenie said...

Eeek! Can I be your undergrad? People this summer didn't know what to do with me when I got 2 weeks worth of data entered in less then a day.... (correctly! I even found other peoples f*ups!)

Maybe some scare tactics? Dr. Z always keeps me on my toes in the lab. I think Dr. Z trusts me now, but who knows.. he's a tough one to read..

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

In my vast experience (read: a few years) I've found that I can tell within a month or so what an undergrad can be trusted to do. Some you just have to be really specific with.

Eugenie, you can be my undergrad! Please... pretty please with a cherry on top?

Eugenie said...

haha. I am looking for a job for the summer... :-)

Albatross said...

Eugenie- I would totally hire you! You are the type of undergrad that can be trusted with important work and your own experiments!
Scare tactics might come in handy. I know she has been 'talked to' in the past about her internet use in the lab.

Amanda- We are right around that month and this incident really makes things pretty clear. She will take some extra work...

Eugenie said...

Heck, if the internet is the problem with her productivity, can't you just disconnect the machine from the internet? Horrible thing to do... I know my productivity would skyrocket if I didn't have the interweb at my fingertips..

(like right now, I should be generating some graphs or eating lunch.. whoops...)

Psych Post Doc said...

I agree with Amanda on the 1 month mark.

I also try to be very specific with what I need from undergrads who work for me. Unfortunately, it often meant having to be in the lab right beside them, so while they helped me get work done, they also limitted where I could work.

Psych Post Doc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Albatross said...

She hasn't been too bad with the internet when I am next to her. She listens to a radio station so switches songs a lot but doesn't seem to surf too much.

PPD- I am spending time with her most of the time now. So far, it isn't too bad as my analysis program is only on 1 computer in the lab anyways. Right next to the only computer that has her data. It really helps keep me on track too!

Anonymous said...

Does the university give you money b/c she is there?

Yes...unplug the ethernet cable and tell her it's a freaking job not a holiday.