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post-doc advice

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 4:14 pm
by Casey
Hi all. I am about to go on post-doc interviews and just wanted to make sure I have all the important questions to ask... I think asking about the following are pretty important:

1 lab funding
2 success of past post-docs in obtaining academic positions
3 colloboration with other labs at the school
4 training opportunities (via presenting seminars, lab meetings, training younger students)

anything else that is pretty important to know and ask?

post-doc advice

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 4:23 pm
by Emil Chuck
How will this person promote you to his colleagues and peers? What is his/her management style? What is his/her position regarding flexible scheduling (should you have a family to take into consideration)? Can you contact past postdocs and students and trainees? How often does he/she seek advice from the Postdoc Services Office?

I think the most telling answer should come from: What is his position on evaluations for you AND for him/her?

post-doc advice

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 4:56 pm
by Kelly
I think the most important question is one you need to ask yourself: why am I doing a post-doc?

Think about this in the context of your long term goals. Don't go reflexly into post-doc if you don't really like doing bench science or science in general because you may end up spending 8 years on this track especially if you plan an academic science career.

Ask yourself: if I could spend my time doing anything, what would it be?

If it isn't doing experiments then ask yourself, is there anyway I could make a living doing the number 1 thing I like to do? What about number 2?

post-doc advice

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 6:06 pm
by Kevin Rogers
Make sure you get some time to talk to the postdocs and grad students when the supervisor is not around. Ask them a LOT of questions about what the supervisor is like to work for. Be very wary of a PI who won't let you do that.

One trick that worked for me well once was simply to walk into the lab with the supervisor. The atmosphere changed immediately and people were jumping on the PI telling them they needed to talk to them. A sure sign the PI never went in the lab and was very hard to get hold of........

post-doc advice

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 8:48 am
by V. Dapic
In my experience, people wanted me to say which project I would like to work on in their lab and why. It is VERY important that you are very, very familiar with the projects and work done in the lab. You may also want to be prepared to defend you grad work once again, especially if you are working on something not so main stream. And yes, deffinitely talk to the people in the lab, but if you have a chance, ask people who are not in the lab. Remember, misery loves company and if people are not happy, they won't always come out and say it (until you show up to start your postdoc).

post-doc advice

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:14 am
by monica
Find out the mechanism of **your** funding and whether you can expect any cost of living increases or other raises. Ask whether your employer makes you pay fica (not all do) and, what the health insurance options are. State income tax plays a big role too in adjusting your compensation. (TX has none!) If you get put on an NRSA training grant you might be kept level with NIH guidelines, even when salaries go up.

Also, I would be wary of having your salary on any grant that is not 100% funded yet. My old lab has had grants promised by word of mouth from the NIH adminstrators but then policy cuts out of their control killed it before the $$ hit grants management. It is a very unpleasant situation when you accept a position and the money disappears.

post-doc advice

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 10:25 am
by Alfred
Since it sounds as though you are purusing the academic research route, ask about the PI's thoughts on taking research with you. Don't forget, a few years down the line you need to start your own lab, and you need a foundation on which to start.

another question

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:19 am
by Casey
is it best to choose a PI with a big name, but who wont be around much for training OR an up and coming PI (howard hughes) who will be around for training?

another question

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:57 am
by Kelly
Don't assume anyone will or will not be around for training.

In most places your technical/methodological training will be done by another post-doc. your intellectual training is a different issue. Look for someone that holds weekly lab meetings as well as individual meeting with trainess at least every month. Look at how many post-docs this person has had, how many have published and where they have published. Talk to the ones that haven't published or have left the lab. Your best index on the lab is what former post-docs say. Look for someone that has had success in getting people the type of job you want.

On balance, it is generally better to go with a big name lab and a big name supervisor. Try to stay away from people that are pre-tenure or have no funding.

another question

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 4:36 pm
by gvs
Interesting discussion here. I just finished giving al the postdoc interviews! In my opinion, most important in a big lab is to knowhow mucht he PI is interested in \"your\" problem. In a big lab 4-5 problems are being worked on, just how interested is the PI in your project will decide the amount of quality time he is going to spend with you.

It might sound silly, as the interview gets over, and you think everything went well, and he/she sounds pretty positive about you, ASK him, why does he think that it would be a good idea for you to join his/her lab. you will be surprised with his/her answer.

I personally like a lab which does not shy away from discussing their science with neighbourig labs and taking their perspective as well. you will be surprised thatmany PIs dont encourage this. this shows lack of confidence in justifying their work. but this is more personal view.