Looking for a Post-Doc? Some things to consider...
A PostDoc is becoming a necessity for research jobs, and becoming more common in many fields, even in Liberal Arts settings. So, if you’re thinking about taking a post-doc position, here’s a brief review of information about what to do, along with some resources to help you out! (Note: These valuable recommendations and resources are compiled from a number of on campus presentations on related topics including: ITLAL Grant Panel, FFLC Grant Workshop, FFLC Job Market Panel, & OGS Grant Writing Workshop! Also, see our other FFLC blogs on relevant topics for more information!)
First, begin the process about 1-1.5 year before you plan to graduate (estimated graduation date, of course). Plan your research proposals by looking for hot topics in your field, review literature in topic of interest; consider funding opportunities (societal applications) and what sorts of additional training or methods are available that you would like to gain experience in.
Look both in and outside your field. Personal connections are most effective. Use your professional network, both electronic and in-person, including your advisor and/or thesis committee, professional meetings and conferences, professional organization websites and listserves, and Chronicle of Higher Education postings, and sometimes even traditional job-search sites are sites.
Important considerations include the nature of the job description (i.e., research only? what are other duties? teaching responsibilities?), what is the new area of expertise for you, can you work with a big name in your field, can you get publications right away, etc. Also, this is one opportunity (rare) for which you can consider geographic preferences!
Potential mentors should be mid-career and have at least two grants, lots of recent publications, be a good personality match, and you may want to consider if there are others in department/organization to interact with professionally.
Applications are typically by e-submission or snail-mail and usually include: a cover-letter, CV, research statement, list references or recommendation letters (as stated), reprints of publications. Don’t forget to tell them how will this lab fit into your research interests. And be sure to ask/inform your references fully of your intentions before sending out the applications.
Once you get a callback, prepare for interview by reading up on current research (3-5 yr span), prepare/give your presentation (job talk), request/attend meetings at the institution, and prepare one or more potential project ideas. It is important to show them how will your research fit into their lab. Also, find out: how long is the position funded (renewable?), what are expectations, and what space/lab resources will be available. Be sure to officially accept in writing (email counts) including specified salary, benefits, and start/end dates. Above all, be sure to actually complete your PHD before the PostDoc start date!
There are cross disciplinary as well as discipline specific, so cast your net widely! Here are a few possible funding ideas. Many more electronic references are listed in the Resource List below.
§ National Institute of Health (NIH): “K-Award” (K-01) 3-5 years of funding for junior scholar (post doc)
§ National Science Foundation (NSF): many post doc awards including International & Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) research fellowships
§ Private Foundations: examples are Mellon Foundation, Fulbright Scholarships, Luce fellows, etc.
FFinally, if you are not able to secure independent funding for your postdoctoral research (organizations such as those above & below), remember that many univeristies and labs will post specific jobs with funding associated to that job specifically. In many fields, the lab-specific job posting for post-doctoral positions come out at the end of the hiring cycle. This gives yet another opportunity to put yourself on the market and find the best match for you, even if you miss the earlier funding cycles.
FFinding the right post doctoral experience can set you up for the career that you want, so its worth putting in the time and effort to think about applying to some. Take a deep breath, and jump in! There's lots of funding available, so if you think you may want a post-doc, go for it!
ITLAL Grant Panel, FFLC Grant Workshop, FFLC Job Market Panel, & OGS Grant Writing Workshop
PostDoc Search Resources:
http://grants.nih.gov/training/careerdevelopmentawards.htm (NIH K-Awards)
http://www.nsf.gov (NSF-Int’l and SBE postdocs)
http://chronicle.com (general job & postdoc listings)
www.postdocjobs.com (general posdoc listings)
Some job search sites are even starting to list post doc announcements (e.g., www.indeed.com, www.simplyhired.com, etc.)
Nontraditional International Fellowship Opportunities:
http://www.clir.org/fellowships/mellon (1yr grants; due prior Nov/Oct)
http://us.fulbrightonline.org/ or http://www.cies.org/us_scholars/ (Fulbright offers student/recent graduate awards as well as for professional faculty; international research only)
http://www.marshallscholarship.org/ (1-2 yrs; UK post doc only)
https://www.hluce.org/lsprogram.aspx (1 yr program; Asia only)
On Campus Resources:
Career Services (http://www.albany.edu/career/) to copy/send recommendation letters & search
Office of Sponsored Programs (http://www.albany.edu/osp/) quarterly publication “Accent on Research” lists upcoming grant opportunities/deadlines including a few postdoc positions
Future Faculty Leadership Council (FFLC) Resources: (selected related topics listed below)