Alice and her friends answer questions that you don’t want to ask your preceptor, peer, or colleagues regarding your career in science.
Q: I am a graduate student at a prestigious university, working in a great lab headed by a really cute assistant professor who is unmarried as far as I know. I think I am falling hard for this person, because all I can think of is getting this person alone and declaring how I feel. I know that fraternizing at the work place is frowned upon, but I am having a hard time putting an end to this situation because I really don’t want to. Can this jeopardize my career?
- In Love, Raleigh
Dear In Love,
A: Yes, this can jeopardize your career, so you must proceed with the utmost caution. First, explore your institution’s rules on fraternization; some are quite explicit and forbid it between professors and students, even between consenting adults. At some institutions, it is illegal for senior members to fraternize with anyone under their supervision. Also, if your feelings are not reciprocated, your advances could be interpreted as harassment.
Workplace relationships are always risky, especially when they involve such differences in status and power. Should they go sour, even more problems could ensue. Yet, Cupid does strike at some inopportune times, and there are many examples of successful laboratory romances.
Whether or not you end up pursuing this relationship, it may be a good idea to change labs—or, even better, institutions. If you choose to proceed, proceed with care.
Got a question for Alice? Send it to SciCareerEditor@aaas.org.