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Career Advice

Postby AKG » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:05 am

Hello Forum members,

I am a 4th year postdoc. I have one publication from my postdoctoral work submitted (as co-first author). I am trying to finish another project and also applying for positions in the industry. I am an international postdoc on J-1 visa and I am encountering lot of problems due to my visa status. Many employers ask if I have GC or US citizenship. While the responses have been positive, I haven't had any on-site interviews yet. I have five publications till now but the citations are very few. For GC application, I was advised to do peer review for journals to improve my chances of getting green card. While I am doing all this, my postdoc supervisor is moving to another university and asked if I would like to move with him. Since, I don't have any position at this moment. What options should I consider?

I would appreciate your suggestions.

Best,
AKG
AKG
 
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Re: Career Advice

Postby PG » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:24 am

Someone in the US needs to speak to how to optimize your chances of a greencard. For your options today it seems like you have a strong support from your current PI (which could potentially also be used to support a GC application but again someone in the US needs to comment on this) but outside this support you dont really have a lot of options at this time.

Getting positive replies to your applications but no on site interviews is an indication that something is not optimal which might be your visa status or something else. Have you received any specific feedback to your applications? If not I would suggest to hav one of your US friends to read and comment on your CV and personal letter. This is generally a good idea in this situation and even more important if you are not native to the country in which you are submitting applications.

You already have 4 years of postdoc so you need to get to another point in your career rather soon but at the same time if continuing with your current PI is the only way for you to stay in the US and have a salary you dont really have a choice right now but you need to find a path forward within the near future.
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Re: Career Advice

Postby AKG » Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:55 pm

The common feedback I am receiving from people I know at various pharma companies is my Visa Status.

Does anyone know about companies in UK hiring people outside of the EU?
AKG
 
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Re: Career Advice

Postby SDA » Mon Aug 17, 2015 6:38 pm

Hi AKG,
I was on all possible visas in academia before I applied and got my GC. But what you are asking is a complex question. Let me try to break this down

1) Are you in a biotech hub from good/great lab and competitive for company positions? i.e if you are an immunologist with some cancer background, you can possibly have a small company sponsor a h-1 b for you. If you come with a rare skill set i.e say TCR engineering, someone will hire you from outside of a hub and sponsor a visa for you.

2) If 1) is not you, then you should try to get a GC on your own i.e self petition under the alien of extraordinary ability or NIW categories. Both are doable without a lawyer and $10 k but you need to devote ~100 hrs to preparing all the material etc. I agree that having a GC on hand will make you play on a level playing field for biotech jobs.

3) There maybe another interesting possibility here since your boss is moving. If he is tenured and being recruited by another university, there maybe a way to promote you to a research assistant professor or a green card eligible research or project scientist series. Your boss can simply ask..hey i have a great postdoc that is ~ year 5 and i would like to put him on a track so he can write independent grant applications (r01 etc) and he needs a gc to write these. This position (super postdoc in some places) does not come with any commitment so the new university might say ok. If you are valued by your boss, you should ask if this is feasible. Who does not love postdocs who want to write their own grants but still part of their labs!

Hope this helps,
SDA
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Re: Career Advice

Postby Dave Walker » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:25 am

Great replies everyone, especially from SDA. Your third comment sounds like a great career move -- a chance to negotiate a better position for the pain of moving. Turning a difficult situation (moving to another university will kill the whole lab's productivity for months if not over a year) into something that could change your career completely!

Are you moving to or from a biotech hub? That would be important to see if you could get that small company to sponsor your H1-B visa. Also not a bad move, but I sometimes hear about the difficulties of H1-Bs (mostly in the tech industry).

Would you prefer to stay in the US long term, versus going elsewhere? I had a postdoc colleague who applied for a GC with his wife. If you have the money they were able to use a lawyer and get theirs. As SDA said, having a well-known PI to give enthusiastic support was key for them.
"The single factor that differentiates Nobel laureates from other scientists is training with another Nobel laureate." -- Sol Snyder
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Re: Career Advise

Postby AKG » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:45 pm

Thanks SDA and Dave.

To reply to your queries:

1. No I am not in a biotech hub currently. I am in the Midwest with few pharma opportunities around. My profile fits quite well for research in biologics (antibody discovery). So that way I feel I am competitive for a lot of research positions. I am not sure about H1B sponsership due to the wait times for application in April and October. I always feel that no company would like to wait for a person for almost a year just to get the visa issues sorted out.

2. I have considered applying for GC on my own. However, I am an Indian citizen so EB2-NIW would take forever. I am not quite eligible for EB1 as per consulation from few lawyers. I am thinking to get some peer reviews for journals and add few more citations to my publications before applying for EB1 self sponsored.

3. My boss is a senior professor and quite well known in the field. He is moving to Greater New York Metro area. He had mentioned about promoting me to a Research Scientist position. But I don't really want to write R01 grant applications due to lack of interest in Academic positions.

Would moving with the boss be a good decision as it will allow me the time to have a better profile for green card application. In such a case, should I stop applying for industry positions? My concern as many others in the forum have mentioned and emphasized is that - I will be in academia for too long to be hired by the pharmaceutical industry (despite finding positions that ask for more than 5 years of postdoc experience).
AKG
 
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Re: Career Advise

Postby SDA » Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:09 pm

Hi AKG,
If I were in your situation, I would most definitely move. While NYC is not a hub per se...it is close enough to Boston and has a lot of biotech in the area. Also the big pharma is on the same coast. All of this translates into easy networking opportunities up and down the coast over a day trip. Not to mention the ease of inviting a candidate for an interview if you are a smallish company.

I filed for an EB1a (Indian Citizen) without talking to lawyers but had input from some colleagues. It depends on how well you can make a case that you are unique. The peer reviews and citations are important but they are only check the box kind of items. What you really need is great letters from very top tier scientists (1-2 National Academy members, HHMI, Chair of departments at well known universities etc). You need to show one piece of work that was significant and you were irreplaceable member of the team. You can in fact turn around your boss's offer to promote and move you...I can write a whole column on applying for GC. But there are websites that offer sample GC for PhD packages etc ($100). I would take a careful look at that and see what you need to do.

Also, I think the promotion has a lot of value. You may not need to write R01 applications at least for a couple of years. It might save you the hassle of applying for GC if it is a position that will qualify for institution GC sponsorship. It looks good in a resume if you say postdoc for 4 years and research scientist for 2 years as opposed to postdoc for 6 years. At the very least, the promotion helps show you are doing well for a GC examiner.

best,
SDA
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Re: Career Advise

Postby AKG » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:28 pm

Thanks SDA for your advise!

I accepted the offer from my supervisor. He said that he would be willing to help me get the needed for the green card by including me for peer reviews and having me as a research scientist when we move.

I feel comfortable to transition as I would be promoted. And if GC is the way to get a position in industry then I am ready to take that path.

I will still be within 5 years of postdoc till mid 2017. Hopefully by that time I would be able to find a permanent position in biotech/pharma.
AKG
 
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Re: Career Advice

Postby PG » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:10 am

Congratulations to your new position and to the fact that you have a supportive PI. Good luck and let us know how things work out for you.
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Re: Career Advice

Postby AKG » Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:12 pm

Happy to share with the forum members that I accepted an offer for a Senior Scientist role in a small Biotech Startup. I would like to thank the members of this forum who have over the course of last few years been helpful with their guidance. It was not an easy route for me. Being a non-US citizen, I had to go through the process to get permanent residency before this transition. I would be more than happy to share my story and guide members of this forum.
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