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“Life After the Ph.D.” How To Land the Post-Doctoral Fellowship of Your Dreams Donna H. Korzick, Ph.D. Chair, Intercollege Program in Physiology Department.

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Presentation on theme: "“Life After the Ph.D.” How To Land the Post-Doctoral Fellowship of Your Dreams Donna H. Korzick, Ph.D. Chair, Intercollege Program in Physiology Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Life After the Ph.D.” How To Land the Post-Doctoral Fellowship of Your Dreams Donna H. Korzick, Ph.D. Chair, Intercollege Program in Physiology Department of Kinesiology The Pennsylvania State University October 29, 2008 – GWISE Seminar Series

2 Landing a Post-Doctoral Fellowship… I.The Search A. Is post-doctoral training really necessary? B. Finding a good mentor and research environment II.The Interview A. Preparation for you visit: homework B. During your visit: listen and ask questions III.The Follow-Up A. After your visit: homework B. The Negotiation: salary, moving expenses, etc IV.The Decision

3 How Long Does a Post- Doctoral Experience Last? 2 – 5 years Usually in one place Years 1-2: learn new techniques (tools in the toolbox) low risk project handed to you Years 3-5:high risk project make the project “your own” find YOUR niche Remember: Your #1 competition will be your Ph.D. advisor, find your niche

4 How and Where Do You Find Post-Doctoral Positions? Advertisements: Science, professional society publications/list serves Word of Mouth Academia? Industry? Government?

5 Is Post-Doctoral Training Really Necessary? You betcha…if you want to land a job at a ‘Research I’ institution Probably not…if you ‘just want to teach’ at a small liberal arts school Yes… if you’re remotely leaning towards continuing on in science Yes…if you want to write your ticket and determine your own fate

6 Preparing for the Interview  Get an itinerary beforehand (communicate with the secretary/administrative assistant)  Do your homework  Become familiar with the individuals on your itinerary  Perform a literature search/know their research  Have you been asked to give a seminar?  Obtain information on the type of room in which you will be presenting (large vs small group)  Know your audience and plan ahead

7 Preparing for the Interview, cont.  Dress professionally!  Speak professionally!  Keep your guard up; now is not the time to reveal negative information about your advisor or university  Address those with whom you meet as “Dr.”  Let your personality shine through without being too casual or too pretentious

8  Listen carefully -To what is said and unsaid - Be attentive  Ask questions of current trainees -examples “What is an average day like in the lab?” “ Do you meet with Dr. _____ often?” “What kind of projects are you working on?” During Your Visit

9 Questions You Should Ask Any Potential Post-Doctoral Mentor  Where will you fit in the general scheme of the lab?  To Whom will you report? your mentor? some middle-management flunky?  How much freedom/flexibility will you have?  What is his/her vision/goals for you?

10 Questions You Should Ask Any Potential Post-Doctoral Mentor, cont.  Low Risk vs High Risk Projects – make them articulate this plan  What is their philosophy on training post-doc’s?  Other career development issues: -Publishing -Grant writing individual NRSA transition awards (NIH KO1, AHA SDG)

11 The Seminar Presentation?  You may or may not be asked to give a seminar.  You will present your thesis work. Make sure you get permission from your current mentor.  Know your audience! Will it be formal or informal?  Don’t take credit for that which is not yours!  Don’t use “cutesy” fonts like comic sands!

12 The Dinner: Social Do’s and Don’ts  Keep your guard up! Now is not the time to weigh in on departmental politics or share negative information about your current mentor – keep it positive.  If you consume alcohol, no more than one drink!  Plan ahead to ask questions, silence is painful: -cost of living? -popular housing developments? -community recreational services -reflect on your day, ask appropriate questions from prior interviews -listen

13 The Follow-Up: After Your Visit  Thank you letter - avoid overly effusive language - be honest with a timeline for your decision  Talk to previous trainees about “what it’s really like” - get names from potential mentor - what they tell you or don’t tell you means alot!  Get input from your current mentor  Get input from senior investigators in the field about the mentor/laboratory

14 How Do You Negotiate An Offer Once a Mentor has been Identified? Things you should eventually ask about/expect: - “When and How” do you ask for this stuff? - Moving Expenses (this can be done by asking to start your salary one month earlier if moving expenses are not customary) - Guaranteed two years of support NIH Stipend: $38,000 (0 years experience) - Supplemental Pay: cost of living? - Full Benefit Package - Travel to at least one meeting/year

15 The Decision: How Do you Select the Perfect Post- Doctoral Mentor?  Follow Your Heart!  Environment/Resources  What is his/her reputation  Big Lab vs Little Lab? Lots of pressure vs less pressure  Pedigree goes a long way and opens doors!  Talk to people at meetings – What kind of reputation does he/she have?

16 Korzick’s Words of Wisdom  Good post-doc’s write their ticket….  Take advantage of every and any opportunity that comes your way – you’ll never have that much freedom again!  Publish Publish Publish  Get your own NRSA  Get a career development award to take with you!  Demonstrate independence and creativity every chance you get  Always do MORE than you are asked  Don’t be afraid to do something different – nothing is permanent!

17 Career Development Resources from the American Physiological Society:


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