What’s After Graduation? Here’s What Francesca Balestrieri is Doing!
After graduating from NC State in the spring of 2023 with a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences, Francesca Balestrieri joined our BIT program as a post-baccalaureate laboratory technician. As a student who is currently pursuing a degree in biological sciences with a concentration in human biology, I was thrilled when I learned that Francesca graduated with the same major. Along with her major, she not only had one or two but three minors in microbiology, psychology, and music with a concentration in vocal performance! So, the question was how did Francesca find herself applying to and accepting the position of Biotechnology Laboratory Technician at NC State?
As a result of the pandemic, Francesca mentioned that out of her four-year college career, her senior year was her only in-person experience. By then, most laboratory positions were seeking freshmen and sophomores so she felt that she might be too late. However, she still wanted to spend a year gaining laboratory experience after graduation and before applying to graduate school. During her last semester at NC State, she took BIT 410 and found that the labs were her favorite part. A lab she enjoyed in particular was the affinity chromatography lab in which “the goal was to purify the protein of interest called CaMPARI from a bacterial culture.” CaMPARI is a photoconvertible fluorescent protein, or simply a protein that makes things glow! From there on, she became interested in the behind-the-scenes of each lab, so when the BIT Lab Technician position was introduced during class one day, she took the opportunity.
As the Biotechnology Laboratory Technician, her main responsibility is to prepare the labs for the students in BIT 410. This includes opening and checking all packages, putting them away in appropriate places, labeling lab stations, test running protocols, and helping the students during lab. Due to some labs requiring preparations weeks ahead and some with long intervals between the steps of the procedure, she realized how much her time management and utilization improved as a result. While on the topic of time management, we talked about advancements in science, specifically the e-gel, which has significantly reduced the time it takes to prepare for and run gel electrophoresis. However, when asked what she did not expect as part of her job, she said did not think that she would form such close and collaborative relationships with the postdoctoral teaching scholars, laboratory manager, and the teaching assistants.
“The lab does not run without our postdocs, but it also does not run without me and the TAs.” Francesca Balestrieri
Since her time as an undergraduate at NC State till today, Francesca has had multiple interests. Her current plan for the future is to apply for a masters degree in public health, masters in genetic counseling, or our very own master of microbial biotechnology program (MMB) at NC State. Being the Biotechnology Laboratory Technician, she is not only expanding on her interests but now has time to decide on her next steps towards her future. All this reminded me of all the other conversations I have had with BIT staff where the main takeaway is the importance of taking time for yourself to explore your interests before settling on your ultimate goal.