After attending an interview for a research scientist position in a regional research institute located 200 miles off a big city, I was offered the position despite my training being only marginally related to what I needed to do. In a way, the institute simply could not attract someone of higher caliber with more pertinent skills.
In the first two weeks, I was staying at my desk a lot, trying to read and acquire necessary knowledge and skills. In other words, I was not confident that I knew how to do the job without lots of reading. Fortunately, my boss was reasonably understanding, and he said to me to do as much I could, and do not worry about making mistakes. By combining reading with actual bench work, I became familiar with the job in three months.
The main duty of my job was to develop specific DNA-based assays for a bacterial pathogen of animals, while my PhD study dealt with a parasite. A similar project had been on going there for over five years before my arrival with no promising results. I had to use some lateral thinking and modify an existing procedure to get what I was looking for. Within 10 months, I got a little break through, which led to the completion of the major aim of the three-year project. Life became much easier if you had the solid results. And I began to get publications one after another.
About 15 months into the job, my boss found a new position in a big city, and I was left on my own with the project. While I had no trouble filling his shoes in overseeing the existing project and preparing annual reports, I encountered some difficulty on the personnel side of the job. In fact, with my direct supervisor gone, the institute director took over the role in signing my annual assessment form, which was essential for getting annual pay increments. I remember after I filled the annual assessment form, I handed it to this director for his signature. He told me to leave it on his desk, and said he would get on with it as soon he finished the current task at hand. Having waited patiently for over three months, I still did not receive the signed form from him. So I prepared another manuscript and put him as a second author, who had no intellectual inputs whatsoever. He went through the paper fairly quickly, and commented that it was a well-written manuscript, which could be submitted with only a few minor corrections. A few days later, he returned my annual assessment form and said your work performance was highly satisfactory, and you deserved the annual pay increment. This taught me an important lesson in life: Tian xia wu ya yi bang hei.