RE: The postdoctoral Conundrum – To Postdoc or not to Postdoc (feedback and advice for those considering whether or NOT to Postdoc)

Following the article by Dr Victor Ujor on “The postdoctoral Conundrum – To Postdoc or not to Postdoc!” two readers left very engaging and interesting comments on LinkedIn which we thought would be of benefit to our readers and the contributors have also very generously agreed for their comments to be shared with our readers.

Dr Lia Paola Zambetti, is an Experienced Scientific communicator and currently Assistant Head/Project Manager at A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) and completed her PhD studies at the University College London. She advises that;

“If you are not 1000% convinced that you want to stay in academia (and have the stellar publication record that is a requirement nowadays) then probably…better to not postdoc!”

It should also be made abundantly clear right from the start that the % of success in getting an academic position is ridiculously low……”

Subsequently, Dr Chris Gaj, Director at the Research Partnership in Philadelphia, experienced healthcare professional and PhD Graduate from Yale University added to the comments made by Dr Zambetti below.

“To echo Lia, do not do an academic postdoc unless you really have to. If you have your heart set on being a tenure track professor, you probably have no choice but to pursue the postdoctoral fellowship pathway. If your interests lie elsewhere, do not use the postdoc as a default path. Strive to reach your goals. It may be that you are unable to get where you want to or even to a place that you can tolerate – if you are faced with the choice of an academic postdoc or pushing shopping carts/mopping floors/cleaning the trash compactor aisle (I am describing my first real job back in high school) then maybe an academic postdoc is better.

What I suggest to people looking for anything other than academic science is ‘do not postdoc unless there is no other viable option.’

And work hard to make sure you are trying to get other opportunities. Don’t do a half-____ed job of it. If the postdoctoral pathway is largely forced on you, always be working towards ways to escape.

Now an industrial postdoc is a different story. This gets you industry experience and sets you up for potentially going into non-scientific pathways like business. But I know these are hard to come by.

No matter where you are in your pathway. Good luck, God bless, and try not to let the job market get you down. It took me about 18 months to find a real position. 12 months in graduate school and 6 months after defending, but it did happen. Just try (I know it’s REAL hard) to stay positive and keep moving forward.”

Many thanks to Dr Zambetti and Dr Gaj for sharing meaningful advice and allowing us to publish their comments on the hub

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#PhDChat – The Postdoctoral Conundrum; to postdoc or not to postoc?

5. Postdoc conundrumFor many PhD candidates, undertaking postdoctoral training after their PhD programs appears as the “natural” career transition upon graduating. This is not an exact science and in today’s post, Dr Victor Ujor discusses the ‘postdoctoral concept’ and offers beneficial tips for PhD candidates thinking of the of the next steps in their career after the PhD

For most PhD students particularly in the sciences, as soon as they near the end of the grueling PhD journey, they are literally feverish at the prospect of landing a real ‘money-paying’ job. In today’s economy, such jobs are few and far between. Nonetheless, they still exist, but to get one, you ought to have a roadmap from the onset. An overwhelming number of PhD candidates drift towards the Postdoctoral end of the job spectrum for a number of reasons.

First, most PhD candidates feel they are expected to do a postdoc – gain extra experience, get more publications and then land the real job. In some cases, that does happen, but if one does not have a clear-cut strategy as to how to negotiate the winding Postdoctoral alleyway, they might end up stuck in a convoluted maze for an unpleasant period of time. Second, more often than not, Postdoctoral positions are more available that positions in industry, which pays more. Third, some PhD candidates are confused about their career prospects i.e. should they decide to ditch academia for industry.

For PhD candidates at the confusing intersection between the end of the PhD program and a vastly hostile market, perhaps it is important to clarify the concept of a postdoctoral experience .

 What is a Postdoctoral experience really?

#PhDChat – 5 Common CV mistakes and how to overcome them!

4. CV Mistakes

Have you applied for positions you believe you have ALL the requirements and skills for but never seem to get past the first hurdle – an invitation to interview? In this article, Dr Jeff McGarvey, identifies common mistakes made on CVs by applicants for job opportunities in his laboratory. Although this article is directed at science graduates, many of the points Jeff addresses are relevant to non-scientific disciplines.

I recently advertised an opening for a microbiologist position in my laboratory with very specific requirements including: minimum education of a BSc. (MSc. preferred), experience working with pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria etc.), and molecular biology experience (DNA extraction, cloning, PCR, DNA sequencing, etc.). After 3 weeks, I received about 35 CVs from candidates wanting the job. While the majority of CVs were well written, there were a few that did not serve the candidates well. Here are a few of the most common problems I encountered.

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