Jennifer shares an impressive list of the skills she's learned in the biotech lab and reflects on her self assessment.

Fall term labs are finished here at Portland CC Bioscience Tech Program and all that’s left is to take finals in the non-lab courses. For Lab Tech’s final we have been asked to look back upon the term and think about what we have learned. Also, think about our skills and our personality traits. That includes our faults too.

Think about it. I mean really think about it. If someone handed you a list of approximately fifty traits and behaviors and asked you to rate yourself between one and five with five being the best would you be able to do it? Would you spend hours or days worrying about how you might come across by answering confidently? Would you feel that answering humbly might make you seem unskilled, or like a negative person? It might be a little nerve wracking right?

Luckily for me, I have an overly confident and possibly somewhat distorted self-image so I just laid down those fives all the way across. Just kidding. No, I actually spent a lot of time thinking about it and although I did have a lot of fives, I also had a few threes and one two because I was being painfully honest with myself.  The list of personality traits were created by people in the field of Biotechnology and are considered by the representatives who compiled the list as necessary traits for positions in just about any biotechnology setting. All of them.  (I’ve attached a copy below which came from Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative Skill Standards.)

Next we looked at all of the lab skills we acquired over the term. This I found to be a whole lot easier to self-assess.  I thought about everything we’ve done in the lab and put together a list of them.

  • Adding antibiotics to media
  • Aseptic Technique
  • Assays (Bradford and beta-galactosidase)
  • Autoclaving
  • Bioethical yardsticks
  • Cell counts
  • Cell Culture
  • Cell feeding
  • Cell passaging
  • Concentrations
  • Correct disposal of lab waste
  • Decontaminating Biological Safety Cabinets
  • Decontaminating Incubators
  • Design inputs and outputs
  • Detailed observations (noting machines used, chemical sources, lot/batch, exact steps done while following protocol, etc)
  • Dilutions
  • Documentation (Lab Notebooks)
  • Equations:  proportions and ratios
  • Federal and State regulations (regarding medical devices and drugs)
  • Filtering media
  • Finding cell line requirements (Seeding, media, etc.)
  • Handling a product complaint
  • Hemacytometers
  • How research is translated to be beneficial to the public.
  • How to write my name, legibly
  • How to write my own Protocol
  • Identifying cell morphology
  • Ishikawa method
  • Lab Math (Dimensional analysis)
  • Making media from powder
  • Making Solutions (pH-ing Tris)
  • Metrology (Using analytical balances/balances, knowing when to use a graduated cylinder, when to use a beaker, etc.)
  • Micropipetters  (How to test them and how to use them.)
  • Multi-channel micropipetters
  • Observing cell morphology
  • pH Meters (Calibration and reading) 
  • Pipette Aids (How to use and how to decontaminate them.)
  • Preparing waste containers
  • Risk assessment
  • Safety (PPE, Chemical Hazards, Aerosols, etc)
  • Serial Dilutions
  • SOPs (Writing and following them.)
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Statistics (Std Dev, Coefficient of Variable)
  • Streaking bacteria plates
  • Teamwork
  • The purposes for misc lab equipment like weigh boats, stir bars, cuvettes, microfuge tubes, etc.
  • Using the MSDS
  • Washing glassware properly
  • Working with an open flame safely
  • Working with proteins



I’m sure the list could go on and on especially if I add the staining we did in Microbiology last Spring. The idea was that we could identify the progress we’ve made and from that identify what we need to work on. It also gives us plenty to talk about in an interview when a potential employer wants to know what our lab experience includes. Although it’s only the tip of the iceberg so to speak, it’s enough in most cases for an entry level position.

It hasn’t been an easy term. There was a lot of work and studying to juggle (I’m still working on a research paper about vaccinations for my Current Topics instructor).  I was unable to devote as much time as I have in prior terms due to having to work. We learned a lot though. We got to know each other a little bit. We celebrated our triumphs together, supported each other and sometimes got frustrated with each other. We also made some awesome friends. And to be honest, we probably put some mileage on our beloved instructors. 

I wouldn’t trade the experience I've had this term for anything (mostly anything, I can't rule out a winning lotto ticket).

I love lab.

Yours truly,

Exhausted Panda (Jen)

traits_and_behaviors_required_for_jobs_in_biomanufacturing_occupations-1.doc60 KB
Bio-Link Program: 
Portland Community College

That's quite a list of

That's quite a list of skills!

That will be a great list to

That will be a great list to refer to when it comes time to write your resume. There are a lot of marketable skills on there.


  • Learn about biotech careers
  • Find biotech programs

Learn more »


  • Professional development
  • View curriculum

Learn more »


  • Connect with local programs
  • Find skilled workers

Learn more »