Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thoughts on Postdoctoral time

If you are a science major you are likely to enter graduate school. If you are fascinated by science and love to understand the world around you, you will try to make the academic experience last as long as possible. Hence you will consider doing a PhD. You may even see yourself capable of being part of the big machinary of scientific research for ever. Thus, after the PhD you will likely end up postdocing. In itself, it is not a bad thing. I have only one word of warning: a bit of postdocing is good, too much postdocing (ie more than 2 positions, up to a total of 4 years) is a bad thing. This is just my personal opinion based on my own experience, hence the opinion is based on n=1.

Three reasons why too much postdocing is bad:
1) The pool of candidates you would compete for a permanent job increases with every year you spend in a postdoc position.
2) Do not illude yourself: there are not that many permanent jobs in academia so the sooner you join the non-academic market the better.
3) Like anyone else, scientists age. It is best to leave the academic bubble before one is too old and therefore not so easily employable/retrainable.


  1. I loved/hated reading this post because it is true and reminds me that as my 4 years of Post Doc (1 position) are coming to a close I actually have to figure out what I am going to do now. I feel that spending so much time in academia has made it hard for me to understand my worth as a non-academic scientist. I am not even sure what the average starting salary with someone of my background would be. I don't even know what sorts of jobs I should apply for. Post Doc work does a good job of preparing you for academic positions but does not help you prepare much for the world outside the ivy covered walls.

  2. Great entry Jody. I know exactly what you mean. No worries, we will figure it out. I will share more thoughts with you on the matter. Cheers.