blocked postdoc

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blocked postdoc

Postby APD » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:30 pm

I did my undergrad in a technical subject. I was very interested in cognitive science, I went to grad school to pursue this interest. I did a Msc and PhD which went quite well. My PhD was very productive , and I learned a lot + enjoyed it. Most importantly I found a very specific topic I was passionately interested in and I focused on that, and I wanted to devote my career to research on this subject and decided to do a postdoc. Unfortunately, my postdocs did not go that well, due to a mix reasons. Partly I picked the wrong subjects for me & partly the lab was awful, and the admin load was too high for me. I was increasingly depressed and frustrated, which made it worse, as it affected my performance 2) I found it very challenging to pick up a new topic & methods from my PhD, without a a broader base / discipline of say an under graduate education in the scientific discipline 3) I did not feel motivated when working in an area outside my specific interest area from my phd. I got only 1 first author paper. Whereas I had about 13+ from my PhD. I made a lot of these choices due to family reasons. I would be really grateful if anyone had any advice

PS: I know we are not supposed to use random made up names on this forum but I did not want to use my real name!
Last edited by APD on Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: blocked postdoc

Postby PG » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:48 am

First there is no requirement that you should be using your own name. You can use any name that you want as long as it is an actual name, initials or something similar.

I dont think that another postdoc is the solution to your situation but I have a couple of questions.

First, 13+ publications from your PhD training sounds like a high number. Does this only include articles in peer reviewed journals or have you also included other types of publications? If you did have 13+ publications it sounds like a rather long PhD training. Approximately how long time did you spend?

Second, you say that you have three less successful postdocs with only one first author paper and one in progress. Did both of these publications come from your last postdoc (if they are that might be a good thing)? Regardless of the number of papers published do you think that you will get good references from your PIs if someone calls and speaks to them? Are we talking about 3 postdocs of 2-3 years each or did you spend shorter time in these laboratories. Please provide a bit more detail since it can be important for the path forward.
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Re: blocked postdoc

Postby RGM » Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:56 pm

Perhaps speaking with a career counselor would be helpful, another PD is not the solution. You really should do some soul searching and pick what makes you happiest and make a career out of it assuming you can do that, or even want to do it.

You're in the fortunate position of not having to work, from my perspective your life is great. Most people don't have a level of wealth for their lifestyle that allows them to retire or start school all over again.

I will say hiring managers don't like people who have many diverse interests, they want to hear that you have your heart set on this one field/job.

Evidently the only time it's great to be a person with multiple career interests at least in the USA is if you are a successful entrepreneur/billionaire to back up your varied interests.

People at the entry-level positions are not afforded that same "courtesy".

Have fun at whatever you do. Family is first, all else is second.
"Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say why not"
"If you think research is expensive, try disease." - Mary Lasker
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Re: blocked postdoc

Postby Rich Lemert » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:50 pm

One question I have for you is when you say want to devote your career to "this subject", are you referring to cognitive science in general, or to your specific dissertation topic. If it's the latter, you will probably need to rethink your goals. People generally pay you to look at topics of concern to them; even academics must please the people controlling the grant money.

You also say you came into this field from another, and that you feel you've been limited by your lack of relevant background. However, you earned a PhD in the field and managed to land three post-docs, so that lack hasn't been fatal. In some ways, in fact, your background can be an advantage because you aren't encumbered by the implicit assumptions in the field that others might be blinded by.

Your statement about having "lots of interests" suggests that you're being pulled in multiple directions, and are therefore unable to advance in any one of them. You need to decide which interests are most important to you, and determine how you can build a career around them. Also, you will probably wind up surprised by how little the specific choices you make will matter in the long run. When you make this type of choice, you tend to start figuring out how to make it work for you - regardless of what it is.

Another post-doc is VERY!!! unlikely to be the answer. Counting the one's you've already taken, you've probably been "training" for over twenty years. You know how to learn something new on your own: it's time to figure out how to get out there and put all that knowledge into practice.
Rich Lemert
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Re: blocked postdoc

Postby APD » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:19 pm

thank you every one - it was very helpful to get your thoughts on this
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