Postdoctoral Training


Finding a Postdoc

The Perfect Postdoc: A Primer – Jim Austin, Science Careers
Q: How do you find the perfect postdoc? A: The perfect postdoc doesn’t exist. 
Whether you’ve just started graduate school, are halfway through, or are finishing your Ph.D., it’s never too soon to start thinking about the next step. Keep reading…

Ten Simple Rules for Selecting a Postdoctoral Position - Philip W. Bourne, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS/plog.org (Computational Biology)
You are a PhD candidate and your thesis defense is already in sight. You have decided you would like to continue with a postdoctoral position rather than moving into industry as the next step. Keep reading

Finding the Perfect Postdoc for You – Carol Manahan, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Postdoctoral Association
Since finding a good postdoctoral position (postdoc) is vital for your career aspirations, you should approach the postdoc search professionally. I would like to share with you what I have learned. Keep reading…

Ten Tips: How to make the most of a postdoctoral position in the social sciences - Stephanie Robert, UW-Madison, School of Social Work
1) You must publish during this time.  Having a postdoc fellowship can help you get a job or a better job in a research university. Keep reading… 

Questions to ask a prospective advisor...

  • How many postdocs have you in your lab and what are they doing now? How long were they in the lab?
  • How much overlap is there between projects? Do people work collaboratively or independently?
  • Are you planning on staying at the university for the near future?
  • Would I be able to move a faculty position with a project from this lab? What arrangements were made with previous postdocs? What materials may I take with me?
  • How is the lab organized?
    • setting up collaborations with other laboratories
    • supervising undergraduates/graduate students, technicians
    • authorship of papers
    • writing grants
    • presenting talks in the department
    • regular lab meetings
    • journal clubs
  • What technical help for routine lab tasks or departmental resources (e.g., computer programming or support) are available for the projects that I will be doing?
  • What is your current funding for this position? For the lab? Will I have the opportunity to write grants proposals, what money is available in the department or lab to pilot new projects/gather preliminary data?
  • What skills would you advise me to gain while I am in this position?
    • teaching
    • grant writing
    • personnel training
    • lab management
  • Will I need to look outside the lab for some, such as teaching?
  • How many publications do you think a postdoc should have prior to looking for a job? What are your criteria for authorship?
  • Are you looking for someone to work on a specific project or will I have a choice of projects? (How much freedom will I have?)
  • What are your expectations of how long I am to stay?
  • How many professional meetings per year do your postdocs attend? What are your criteria for attending meetings?

Questions to ask about a prospective advisor...

  • What is the current funding situation?
  • How does the PI resolve personnel issues?
  • How accessible is the PI for experimental problem-solving?
  • What is the attitude toward testing new approaches/materials?
  • How quickly does the PI turn around manuscript reviews?
  • Is the PI a large picture person or a detailed person?
  • What is the freedom of contact with the PI outside of staff meetings?
  • What is the environment in a typical lab meeting?
  • How did previous postdocs relate with the PI?
  • When the PI is out of town, who is in charge?
  • How much project freedom have postdocs had in the lab?
a student examines a sample of struvite under a microscope

Planning your path to graduate school success