Finally after months of planning and preparation Alan has finally arrived at the NIH in his new lab. He is excited to be the newest fellow at the National Cancer Institute of the NIH and is ready to tackle cancer. In his first few weeks, Alan discovered that working for the Federal government is different than other jobs. For example, in order to be hired, Alan was required by Title 5 U.S.C., Chapters 11, 21, 23, 31, 33, 35, and 51 to submit a detailed background check requiring a complete and gap-free list of residences for the last 5 years with an accompanying list of contacts that can verify each address, a complete list of employers and verification of unemployment status for the last 5 years with supervisor contact info for each job and a non-family verification for unemployment, and a list of 3 friends that can vouch for his character in the last 5 years. In addition to the background check, Alan was required to be electronically fingerprinted and provide a comprehensive physical report. The entire process took Alan over a day to finish and there are still training courses that he needs to complete.
In addition to all the paperwork, during the 1st week at the NIH, Alan got completely lost several times. One day he got lost in the clinical center and spent 20 minutes stumbling through several construction zones, two patient surgical wings, and one abandoned cafeteria kitchen before finally finding an exit that wasn't an alarmed emergency exit. A few days later, Alan boarded a shuttle he thought was bound for his lab building, but much to his surprise, the shuttle exited the NIH campus, and drove 20 minutes away to another city before returning back to the main campus (stay away from the green line!).
After all the difficulties of orienting himself at a new workplace, Alan finally feels comfortable getting to and from work. He has a desk (but not a trash can, the purchasing department won't accept orders until October), an NIH email account, and a phone number. He is learning about the cancer stem cell projects that he will work on and is excited to prove that those cells really do exist.