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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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07/07/11
Post doctoral positions.
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 8:01 pm

Did you know that most people like to be told
answers to their questions that they specifically
ask?  [i. e. if you present concepts at a workshop
or in a document people find it hard to ‘connect
the dots to themselves.’]

I am learning this, over and over and over again.

Recently, a colleague used LinkedIn.com to invite
me into his/her network and ask me:

“….I am sending my application package to all
the professor(s) whose research excites me. 
some of them are responding, but most …are
negative.  Most of them … may not even see my
email …”  Is it good if I email them again or call
them?”

To this hardworking, yet not well coached or guided
recent Ph.D., a thoughtful response was sent.  ‘When
you think seriously about what the post-doc position
is, you must start early and ask yourself what is it
that you really want to do in your career?  What are
you very passionate about?’  [Just being interested in
someone’s work is not enough.]

‘You need to use your network and those of people
who know you well to identify people who you should
consider working for.’

‘Then, you need to do some very serious homework,
real research about the field you wish to work, the
principal investigator, and people who have worked
in the past with the PI.’

As a blog has noted, consider choosing a well established
PI in a field consistent with what you have done
recently.  Or else “your expertise clock” resets to
zero in work experience time.  Remember, too, that
as far as industrial experience is concerned two years
of post-doc in a field is considered as one year of
industrial experience.

A recent BU panel supported what many workshops
suggest that ‘to find a good post-doc you need to
network, network, network…’  Just sending emails to
people whose work is interesting has a low probability
of success rate.  ‘People need to attend meetings,
give papers, play active roles in meetings and be introduced
to prospective PIs.  It is the responsibility of you and your
adviser to proactively seek the post-doc stepping stone
to your desired career.’

The prospective post-doc PI will assess your personal
fit, your depth of experience in working with junior members
of her/his lab and your motivation and goals.

You should know not only publication results matter in the
end for yourself, but also building your network, showing
you can come up to speed fast and develop the soft and
wise skills
needed.

And, oh, BTW, what are you going to say differently
in your next email?  Another email to the PIs, especially if it
is a “cold email“  (Not expected or not in response to
a position announcement) is probably not going to be
successful.  A much more well thought out plan needs
to be put in place.

It may not be a bad idea to develop a viable back-up
plan as well…

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