Postdoc advice: mention fellowship applications to other institutions?

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Postdoc advice: mention fellowship applications to other institutions?

Postby WG » Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:15 pm

Should you tell potential postdoc advisors about fellowship(s) that you are applying for, if they are at another institution(it's a university fellowship in another country)? In interviewing for positions I have encountered P.I.s who want to hire individuals who can stay for at least two years(or even more). I think that if awarded a fellowship before the contract ends, it might be better to take it. Reason being the project is something I would have proposed myself and it would also put me in a better position to get on the path to independence research wise, and could be a career boost if I choose to stay in academia. Also if successful, the compensation and benefits are likely to be better with the fellowship than a regular postdoc. In more broad terms, how does one ensure that they look after their best interests especially when working with new P.I.s who are more focused on getting their own careers off the ground? Or when working at smaller institutions that lack postdoc associations or other bodies that can advocate for an individual should issues arise? Thanks in advance.
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Re: Postdoc advice: mention fellowship applications to other institutions?

Postby PG » Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:17 am

Someone else has to give an answer to the questions about the academic career value of various grants etc and I will restrict myself to more general comments.

In any kind of career decision or discussion you need to assume that everyone around you are talking at least partially out of their own interests and may not entirely look at what would be best for your career.

Also being in a temporary position brings some obvious disadvantages for you as a postdoc (job security, amount of USD/month, being in a training position etc) and personally I dont think that you should feel bad about potentially leaving a bit early if you are offered something better. Most PIs will understand this and accept if you leave early (assuming that you have spent enough time in the laboratory).
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Re: Postdoc advice: mention fellowship applications to other institutions?

Postby Craig B. » Mon Apr 20, 2015 3:19 pm

Assuming your chance at getting the fellowship is fairly low, I would personally err on the side of not mentioning it. PI's looking for individuals to stay for 2 years seems pretty reasonable--I'd say there's a ~6 month transition period when joining the new group, and they're looking to get some return on the investment of training you. Letting on that you're already looking past their lab may not be received very well.
Craig B.
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Re: Postdoc advice: mention fellowship applications to other institutions?

Postby WG » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:54 am

Thank you for your responses.To PG you are right, even though I would be grateful to get to work with this P.I. I can't overlook the realities of a postdoc, other than compensation, job security is another major issue. This is a new lab where the P.I. is just starting out and still trying to get grants and students.

I am inclined to err on the side of caution as Craig B put it because although the Professor I am in contact with at University B seems supportive, I don't know if I will get the fellowship. I am still in the application stage which has two steps where initial applications are picked out in the preliminary phase. Those that are successful at that stage are then invited to submit full proposals. However, if I got through to step two I would most likely be writing the proposal whilst working for this P.I. I don't know if that makes a difference.

Some other advice I got from other people said to be upfront about everything because academia is a small world and I could somehow be labelled as being deceitful or flakey. But somehow I don't feel comfortable doing that because at this stage this is still a "maybe". Also I do understand the cost of training someone, and working for a year seems reasonable enough to me. At this point I am trying to keep my options open, the fellowship might be helpful if I decided to pursue academia but on the other hand I have also been looking at other areas I could work in the non-academic world. If you have more to add please feel free to chime in below.
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