Finding the Right Postdoc Week

Each year in early summer, the PDCO organizes Finding the Right Postdoc Week, a series of events geared toward helping senior PhD students think critically about the next step in their careers and set themselves up for success in their future careers. Watch webinars from the past Postdoc weeks on our recordings page.

How do I choose the best postdoc position for my future?

A postdoc itself is not a career goal; it is a temporary position meant to train scholars in a new field, develop an independent project, and help secure a full-time position. Too often, students delay thinking about their careers until they are in a postdoc position. Ideally, students should think about their preferred career during graduate school so they can make an informed decision about if a postdoc is necessary and if so, choose a postdoctoral position that will set them up for success. To hear more about making this critical decision, listen to this presentation by Dr. Patricia Phelps: 2018 How to Find a Postdoc Presentation (PPT)

How to find and apply for postdoctoral positions

Finding and securing a postdoc position can take quite a bit of time. It is recommended to start your search about one year before you plan on defending your thesis. Just like job searches, postdoc searches benefit from networking. In fact, many academic postdoc positions are never posted online and are obtained through networking at conferences, seminars, and through collaborations. Postdoc job ads can be found on many job search engines, including LinkedIn and Handshake, in addition to Institution websites, NIH Postdoc Jobs Board, and Twitter (#postdocs, #postdocjobs, #postdoc). Typically, Principal Investigators will request a cover letter, CV, and list of references from applicants. Use the resource below to help prepare your materials and make an appointment with PDCO staff to review these documents. Postdoc Applications: CVs and Cover Letters (DOC)

Consider a non-academic postdoc position

Postdoctoral positions are not restricted to research-based fellowships in University settings. In fact, a diverse range of postdoctoral programs exist outside of academia, both at and away from the bench, that provide valuable professional training experience. If you’re interested in a career such as industry, teaching, or government, consider a non-traditional postdoctoral position that gives you the experience and the network necessary to make the transition to a permanent position. Each year, PDCO invites employers and program managers from non-academic postdoc programs to present webinars during Finding the Right Postdoc Week. Descriptions and recordings of the 2018 Finding the Right Postdoc Week webinars can be found on our recordings page.

Considering a postdoc in industry? Read over our Industry Postdocs: FAQ resource to get started.

Additional Resources

Database of self-reported postdoc salaries and benefits
“The Postdoc Interview” Nature (2008)
Graduate Student Resource for Choosing a Postdoc, National Postdoctoral Association