"I acknowledge that I have the primary responsibility for the development of my own career. I recognize that I must take a realistic look at career opportunities and follow a path that matches my individual skills, values, and interests."
– Compact between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors, AAMC Group on Graduate, Research, Education, and Training (GREAT) and its Postdoctorate Committee, December 2006
A postdoc position is not an end point of your career but rather a mean to an end - a permanent position in academy, industry, or elsewhere. Below we would like to make couple of recommendations for developing your career:
- We recommend that you starting to plan your career early.
- We recommend that you starting to plan your career often.
- We recommend that you being your career planning using an excellent myIDP tool and by familiarizing yourself with the concept of Individual Development Plans. Visiting our IDP page will help you better prepare for developing your own development plan. The myIDP tool that helps you "quantify" and keep track of your career.
- Begin your postdoctoral training with reading Harvard's Secrets to a Successful Postdoc and with having an honest conversation with your faculty mentor about your long-term goals. While your mentor may be particularly focued on your research plans, don't forget to spent time discussing your career plans. Pick your faculty mentor's wisdom, odds are s/he will be an important networking tool in your career toolbox.
- In addition to using the myIDP tool you may also want to take a less formal and philosophical
approach to planning and reflect on your goals and create plans that have three crucial
- goals set at multiples levels from most general and longest term to more specific and shorter-term. Start from big goals and try to break them up into smaller and more specific sub-goals. Smaller goals generally are more manageable and they will make it easier for you to develop action plans - strategies to achieve them.
- action plan or plans that would help you achieve each goal. In essence you are telling yourself how are you planning to get from where you are to the goal-point you set for yourself
- a time frame for achieving each goal and a deadline for completing each action plan. The time frame glues together goals and action plans creating a career timeline.
- It is natural that you likely are very excited about your new postdoctoral position and ready to dive in and move forward at full speed with your postdoc responsibilities. That's wonderful! However, before you become fully consumed by your daily duties we would like for you to take a moment and think about where you would like to be in 5 years and think how your postdoctoral position fits into that plan.
- Pause on regular basis and revisit the career plan you created, see if it should be amended, or maybe even changed all together. Flexibility and adaptation are key factors to success, even if that is not the success you initially envisioned. There is absolutely no shame in adapating your plans depending on external circumstances, progress of your research, and the job market.
Career Development Checklist:
Develop your Individual Development Plan
Develop yout IDP during your first month at Texas Tech. We recommend that you use the myIDP tool that offers excellent self-asesment tools and ability to track your progress. While we recommend myIDP its using is optional, you may develop a IDP plan on paper though we believe it will be much harder.
Schedule a career counseling session or a CV critique session.
Set an appointment with the Career Center to discuss your career plans or to review and critique your CV or simply take advantage of bi-weekly Career Center's outpost hours at the Graduate Center. To schedule an appointment please email Nicole Noble, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Explore your career options.
Careers in Academia
- Consult the Academic Culture section of the Chronicle of Higher Education for insights into careers in academic and all aspect of life as an academic.
- Consider purchasing The Academic Job Search Handbook by Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong, ISBN: 978-0812-22016-2 (paperback). See price comparisons at AddAll or DealOZ
Careers Beyond Academia
- Science Careers is an excellent source of information about scientific careers.
- Alternative Careers in Science, edited by Cynthia Robbins-Roth. Free download from Texas Tech Libraries.
- Consider purchasing:
- So What Are You Going to Do With That? Finding Careers Outside Academia by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius, ISBN: 978-0-226-03881-0 (hardcover); 978-0-226-03882-7 (paperback). See price comparisons at AddAll or DealOZ
- The Chicago Guide to Your Career in Science: A Toolkit for Students and Postdocs by by Victor A. Bloomfield and Esam E. El-Fakahany, ISBN: 978-0-226-060644 (paperback), 978-0-226-060637 (hardcover). See price comparisons at AddAll or DealOZ
- The Guide to Nontraditional Careers in Science by Karen Young Kreeger, ISBN: 978-1560-32670-0 (paperback). See price comparisons at AddAll or DealOZ
- A PhD Is Not Enough!: A Guide to Survival in Science by by Peter J. Feibelman, ISBN: 978-0465022229. Also as audiobook. See price comparisons at AddAll or DealOZ
Prepare for your search.
Get your CV and other materials ready to distribute.
- Share your CV with your faculty mentor and others whose opinion you trust. Seek feedback. Remember two heads are better than one.
- Schedule CV Critique Session with the Uversity career Services.
- For sample teaching statements, check out the University of Michigan’s compilation of samples.
Network, network, network!
- Read through Networking in Academia.
- Join Young Professionals of Greater Lubbock.
- Set up a LinkedIn profile
Practice interviewing and negotiating.
- Set up a mock interview with the University career Services.
- Read through tips on interviewing in industry, or interviewing in academia.
Other Career Development Resources:
- AAAS Science Careers, American Association for the Advancement of Science
- Stanford PhD & Postdoc Career Planning Guide, Stanford University
- Career Advice for Life Scientists, Volumes I & II, The American Society for Cell Biology
- Career Planning Resources, National Postdoctoral Association
- Duke Postdoctoral Services YouTube Channel [videos]
- Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty, 2nd Edition, Burroughs Wellcome Fund and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- NIGMS Workshop for Postdocs Transitioning to Independent Positions [videos]
- Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) for Trainees Outside the NIH
- Professional Development Resources, Duke University Office of Postdoctoral Services