lecture7 - Phys 7857 Graduate Seminar How to get a job in...

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Phys 7857 Graduate Seminar “How to get a job in physics” oday: Postdoctoral positions Today: Postdoctoral positions
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These days very few people who pursue a research career go to a permanent position immediately after obtaining their Ph.D. Such positions are either not available without postdoctoral training or suffer in quality without such training. Usually these are positions that are for one year renewable to two (sometimes two with a third year). Rarely they are longer. What is clear is that the position is NOT to become permanent. The expectation is you will leave after it finishes. The positions have little obligations beyond you doing research. It will perhaps be the period in your life in which you will be more focused on research. Some people relish nostalgically about such period later on in their careers. But it is also a period with challenges. You will be for the first time “on your own” as a scientist. You will have to handle a relationship with your postdoctoral advisor, usually with little time to get to know each other well. Your advisors’ letter of recommendation will be very important in your finding your next job. Finding your next job becomes a priority almost from day one. In two year positions you will be applying for your next job shortly after a year has elapsed since you arrived.
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Sharon Traweek is an anthropologist that studied particle physicists using the techniques that anthropologists use to study tribes. She characterizes the postdoc period as similar to that of the young warriors in a tribe who need to show the elder warriors they could kill them if they wished to, but without doing so.
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Postdoctoral positions can be classified roughly into two different kinds, depending on the source of funding. In the “regular postdoctoral position” (for lack of a better name), the money comes to your postdoctoral advisor in the form of a grant. A portion of that grant is devoted to hiring a postdoctoral researcher to help with the topic of the grant. This model of funding is widely used in the US, more rarely in other countries. In a “postdoctoral fellowship” a funding agency gives a grant directly to you for you Two kinds of post-docs: to work under the advice of some postdoctoral mentor or group. The funding agency could even be from a different country (e.g. you get an NSF fellowship to do a postdoc in Paris). Though in principle both types of arrangements provide for you do concentrate almost exclusively on research and therefore should matter very little, the reality is that the source of funding can influence how you interact and relate to your advisor and the research group surrounding her/him. Human relations are not an exact science, and how your advisor will react to your source of funding will depend on the person. However…
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If you are being funded through your advisors’ grant, there will be a tendency for your advisor to evaluate your work in relation to how it advances the goals of the grant. In some cases this is very appropriate. For example,
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lecture7 - Phys 7857 Graduate Seminar How to get a job in...

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