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How to avoid the academic post-doc?

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 3:54 pm
by F.H.F.
Hello all, I am writing my PhD thesis right now and need to find a post-doc position soon. I was looking into the possibility of an industry post-doc, but I can't seem to find out how to start the process? Is it only big companies with established programs? Do you directly contact PI's in the companies? I would love to find out more...


Sir, are you serious, or playing?

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 4:21 pm
by P.C.
Your question is fairly general and, perhaps the answers are in the archives. Can you possibly be more specific about your background and your goals? If you respond, we will help.

Sir, are you serious, or playing?

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 2:01 pm
by F.H.F.

I was serious. I have spent some time searching the archives, but many of the posts have been company specific or situational. I am looking for general information on the process. If anyone could at least point me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it. I am moving to Connecticut this summer and will be defending mid- late July.... finishing my PhD... I spent 2.5 yrs as a technician at Harvard before going to grad school and everyone I have asked has told me that I will have to do an academic post-doc - why? It seems like an academic post-doc will be more of the same and not help me learn the skills that I need for industry and seems like it won't get me any closer to my goal (a job in Industry)


Revisiting Industry postdocs

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 2:14 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hello FHF,

I agree, in part. An industry postdoc can open some doors for you in the business, teach you about the "culture" of companies, and help you build a great rolodex of networking contacts. But, the good ones are few and far between, and you'll want to avoid the "cheap pair of hands" type that some of the smaller and unknown biotech ventures offer. So -- can you make a call to the H/R department at Pfizer in Groton, and/or Bristol Myers in CT as well as Boehringer? These companies MAY have industry postdocs, as it is often the larger companies that offer them.

You would go about finding them in the same way you would an academic postdoc. You'll need to talk to people, a lot of people, and/or send off some requests to various labs and inquire. Sometimes, in industry it is possible for a hiring manager to add an open position for a postdoc without having a lot of discussion about the hire. So, if you keep in touch with people in industry who are in your same niche, you may just find someone who can open a position for you on a 2-year basis. It has happened before.

Don't forget that academic postdocs, in the really top labs, can be just as strong a draw to industry. The only disadvantage is that you don't get the "extras" of the networking rolodex and the "industry experience" that always looks so good on your CV.

On this forum, we had a guest host from Genentech who spoke about industry postdocs. Her comments, while specific to Genentech, were fairly universal. I'd read through that section.

Best regards and keep us informed.

Dave Jensen, Moderator

need to do postdoc

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 8:46 pm
by Val

need to do postdoc

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 8:04 am
by Robert
Through a connection in my department, I had the opportunity to speak to a senior VP at a large pharma company last fall, who indicated to me that a company would "rather have you sooner than later" after your Ph.D., because there's a lot you need to learn about how industry works vs academia and they feel you can learn it better earlier. In other words, they'd rather you do a postdoc with them, if such a thing is offered. I also got a sense that the word "postdoc" is something that companies started using because we use it in academia, but it's not something they really have an equivalent for, unless you're in a specified 'postdoc' program at a company, which even then might have been created solely to generate contacts with promising young people. Others may disagree, but it seems to me that to a company you are simply a person with a certain set of skills and certain qualifications; there is much less hoop-jumping and satisfying of archane provisions of apprenticeship. (On the other hand it's a lot easier to get the boot so maybe they don't need to be as careful).

One strategy I used to investigate industry postdocs is to search pubmed for the names of companies (using the 'institution' field if you are savvy about it). Papers published from company labs have authors for correspondence just like all other papers. This will tell you about how much publishing happens at a company and will give you geographic clues as well.


what I am doing

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 11:34 am
by Natalie
This is my gameplan for what it's worth...

I am starting my first postdoc this fall. My new lab is an academic medschool lab with very strong ties to industry. My new PI is on the board of some biotech/pharma companies. He and other people in his lab have published with scientists at big pharma, etc. Hopefully at the end of my postdoc I will be positioned for either academic or industry jobs.

Hope that helps!

How to avoid the academic post-doc?

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 8:36 am
by F.H.F.
Thank you all for the advice. This is a great starting point, it has really helped me to focus my plan for continuing my job search. Now I just have to find the time to get started.