Is it too late for a postdoc/bridges burned

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Is it too late for a postdoc/bridges burned

Postby Sarah » Sun Feb 13, 2005 7:03 am

I am just curious as to whether I still have options, or if I should instead just invest in an alternate career at this point (teaching at a CC or private high school).

I currently do teach as a "Lecturer" at a university - I have truly loved teaching, but I dislike other aspects of the job. Anyway, I would like to teach at a small college. I did do well last year interviewing and was offered at least one tenure track job, but not necessarily in places that I wanted to live or a good fit (ironically I still accepted a position in a place that I do not want to live but thats another story).

Here are my question - I think I would be more marketable if I did a postdoc. However, I have to admit the following

1) I really disliked research as a grad student and this was equivalent to a root canal for me. I was bored with my project in 2 years. I am amazed I finished - and I did not publish any of it. I am not sure if it was the research or the project though - I currently read papers with some of my students, and have loved some of the papers/science/ideas.

2). I am in my mid 30s (I guess I am saying that I am older and probably unfocused - I have several years between undergrad and grad school with every type of job imaginable).

3) I have been out of grad school for about a year and a half.

With those strikes, am I out of the game?

I do want to look into changing what I currently do, whether it be a new job or...a postdoc. With work I will have limitted time to invest in all the possibilities, so I would rather have a narrow focused search and not be here next year.

Just curious as to whether my bridges are burned, or if others have successfully re-entered with those sort of strikes against them.

Thanks for any input.

Is it too late for a postdoc/bridges burned

Postby Harald » Sun Feb 13, 2005 11:48 am

If you search long enough, you might find a PI who will accept you. However, if you don't like research in the first place, it doesn't make sense to do a post-doc.

Reading several artices at Science's Next Wave, I conclude that a post-doc requires some publications and the ability to get research funded.

The time between graduation from doctoral course and post-doc is not such a problem. In the case of Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, you can get a fellowship even six years after getting PhD.

I graduated from doctoral course at the age of 32 and since then I've been looking for post-doc opportunities. I published some papers, I do like research, but I find it difficult to get a post-doc or even an industry job related to my research.

Is it too late for a postdoc (is a postdoc the right way to go?)

Postby Doug » Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:04 am

If you dislike research, I'd suggest a faculty position isn't for you. Many schools, even small schools, expect their faculty to not only teach but actively engage in research, even if they have no graduate program. I'm not sure if teaching without doing research is a viable option as it used to be. I'd suggest you read some ads and see what the expectations are. Although this is coming from the viewpoint of a non-lab rat, so lab folks might have a differing view. Hopefully, others will chime in and tell me I'm mistaken.

Is it too late for a postdoc (is a postdoc the right way to go?)

Postby Carlysle Tancha » Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:07 pm


You are right. Many small liberal arts colleges are stiffening up their undergrad science programs and trying to lure in high-powered researchers to head their various life science depts. The idea of getting a teaching position is quickly being extinguished these days--you have to do it all, even though the graduate student/post-doc work force isn't there. There are continually new summer programs trying to get these undergrads sucked in so that they will become the workhorses. Since many are going to try for med school, they usually are not cynical like the 2nd year grad students; may actually try to pump out some work--but you have to take them by the hand at every step of the way.

Look to the private sector--non-academic and non-gov't. (government usually wants years of experience--usually is good after a career in science, when someone is approaching retirement/becomes the prof. emeritus; or, the internships are just that--short-term contracts--yes, you may meet people, but you are not going to be any more stable in your life).

Just think about what you want and then push in that direction. A post-doc is not going to give you the relevant experience you need--you will just be a pair of hands; you can be sure that the PI isn't going to care about your career success when he is treading water and being myopic with his own grant writing.
Carlysle Tancha
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Is it too late for a postdoc/bridges burned

Postby Emil Chuck » Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:58 am

If you don't like doing research at all, then stay away from research and avoid a postdoc. You should however try to keep in your network any persons who do research. That said, you are not out of contention to get a postdoc; you may have to find the "right one" for you, but there are a lot of postdoc positions that one can find.

My first suggestion, assuming you're still not ready for the job market, is to look at job postings for the positions you want and see whether they require postdoctoral research experience. In CC's and HS's, they won't so much, but if you want to teach in HS, you need to be ready for getting state certification. No Child Left Behind should help a bit (if I understand that law correctly).

Regardless your teaching is going to be very critical at a liberal arts college so you need to build your portfolio up accordingly. If you truly like teaching, see if you can videotape your classes: one lecture, one "discussion", and maybe one not-so-conventional class session. Keep all of your evaluations, and talk to your supervisors about your strengths and deficiencies in your teaching. Write up your teaching philosophy and vision.

There are also teaching postdocs that exist out there by the way, in case you want more time to actually get some experience transitioning into such positions. Unfortunately you may have missed some of the deadlines (NC State's Biotechnology Teaching Fellows program passed Feb 1, but call them to see).
Emil Chuck
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