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What next?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:05 pm
by Sheila
I am in my last six months of a three year post-doc in the US and am wondering what the next best step for my career would be. This is my first post-doc, and it has gone very well. I may have the option to stay on but would like to return home to Europe, which may mean starting all over again. At this point is it appropriate for me to do another post-doc, and at what point should I really have my own funding? Most of the grants at home require that I am actually working there at the time of application, so I can't really apply until I'm back in the country again. My path has been so well defined up to now..... degree, MSc, PhD, postdoc.... and suddenly it all seems uncertain! I love my current position and would ideally like to transplant it home and have considered a collaboration with my current boss, but it's difficult to get funding that you can take out of the US....also, my publications are only really starting to add up so I think I'll be in a stronger position in a year..... any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

What next?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:47 am
by Paul
Hi Sheila,

I was in the exact same position last year so I can give you the benefit of my experiences.

I had been a postdoc for 4 years and, like you, had a bunch of papers coming out and had done pretty well over the long course. I was looking at staying in the US as well as returning to Europe (UK). I managed to convice my current PI to let me attend a conference in the UK and I was selected to present an talk, rather than a poster. I used to conference to talk to as many people as I could. I attended all the functions, spotted the \"big names\" in my field, looked up PI\'s as well as workmates from my degree and PhD and generally put my face back out there. I was actually amazed how many remembered me or were happy to talk to me because they caught my talk. Immediately after the conference I schmoozed it more by firing off a few emails to people and mentioning that I would be starting to look for positions. I also sent off a few \"blind\" to people I hadn\'t met but explaining exactly how I felt I could contribute to their department, if I were to be taken on. From these approaches, I got three or four who said they would be happy to support an application for a career development award (Wellcome Trust, MRC etc), two who said \"thanks but no thanks\" and one who wanted to recruit me immediately.

If you have a few publications coming out, a good idea for a project and can identify labs that would fit well with your research interests then go for it. I was pleasantly surprised. Also, keep in mind that the deadlines for career development awards only come around once a year and so, by the time you have indentified an institution willing to sponsor you, have put together a solid proposal and waited for the application deadline it could ALREADY be next year!

As it turned out for me, I\'m staying here in the US because of a girl but shouted and screamed until I got promoted to instructor! My opinions on the scandalous way certain institutions fail to promote postdocs (especially non-americans) is another story!!