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First post-doc!

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 10:42 pm
by SV
Hi,

I am getting closer to wrap-up my Ph.D, just have the 'last' experiment to finish. My mentor also keeps saying that I will be done in few months. The problem is that I have not seriously started looking for a post-doc position yet. I am little flexible with the area of research but not much on the region! My question is should I start applying to all the labs that I am interested in asking for a vacancy that may be there for next year. As of now, I don't know exactly when I will be done with Ph.D. So, how should I approach this situation?
Additional trouble...I am on F-1, which expired in May 2004. I don't want J-1, such a hassle visa! Do you think, I should make clear about these facts either in the covering letter or CV.

Thanks,
SV

First post-doc!

PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:26 pm
by Paul
Hey SV,

My advice, as someone who has been through this stage and watched countless friends and workmates also, is to get moving! Its too easy to fall into the "last" experiment trap. Lets be honest...rarely does an experiment not lead into another. Unless your experiments are essential for an otherwise completed paper then your eyes should be looking forward.
While my PI had money for my postdoc position, other people I know have had to find money to obtain a position in a good lab. Especially if you are restricted by region and have identified labs you would like to work in then finding whither they have space/money/interest for taking you onboard is the first step. Most PI\'s are used to the problems of finishing a PhD and are flexible about start dates etc. but, again, unless there is an imminent paper from your PhD work, if you have enough to write a thesis then get it written...it will take a LOT more effort than you think! My advice would be to consider setting deadlines- for finishing in the lab (these couple of months), finishing a first draft of your thesis (another month perhaps), letting your mentor review your thesis (depends on them but ask for a timeline) and then another few weeks for reworking. If you can get this down (and can stick to it) then you already have a feel for when you could start a post-doc position and can supply this information when you are writing for positions.

Not having a valid work visa is also going to be more than trouble...its going to be a killer. My advice is to just go for the J-1. Sure, it might seem like a hassle but there are successful stories as well as horror stories. For me, the J-1 was no problem to obtain. Every post-doc I know starts on a J-1. Its the simplest way to do things.

First post-doc!

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 10:21 am
by Steve Wang
I am making a comment on the visa issue. If you are on F1 now, get a H1B instead of J1 for postdoc if you plan to stay in the States for some time (or possibly green card in the future). The only benefit of J1 I can see is it's tax-free, but other than that a lot of hassles in the future. From my experience, it is not a problem to get a H1B for postdoc if you are on F1 now. If you've got an offer from some lab, be sure to let the PI know.