As I think about my journey through graduate school and the crazy world of postdoc-dom (postdoc-ship?), a few things keep coming to mind. These verses from Ephesians 3 (ESV, emphases mine) have been such an encouragement, and are my prayer for those of you who are beginning or in the midst of your postdoc journey.
Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It is easy to get caught up in the pursuit of knowledge and achieving success despite high costs to yourself, to your family, or to others. I pray that you would be strengthened in your journey through the power of the Spirit, and that you would be deeply grounded in the love of Christ which surpasses any knowledge that you might receive or generate during your years as a postdoc. Be encouraged, and I hope that the following additional resources will be informative and helpful along the way!
1) National Postdoctoral Association: The NPA is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization that seeks sustainable change and improvement for the postdoctoral experience through collaboration with all stakeholders. The NPA’s key program activities are focused in three key areas: Advocacy and Education, Resource Development, Community Building.
Develops policy recommendations for institutions, such as: Family friendly policies, maternity leave, Postdoctoral training, etc. . . .
2) Individual Development Plan: I have heard over and over again the value of making an individual development plan – both for graduate students and for postdocs. Setting goals ahead of time will help with focus and direction, particularly as you get settled into your training and more demands are placed on your time. A resource to be completed by trainee and/or mentor to set goals for success in the training period and beyond, e.g., http://www.mcw.edu/VirtualCareerCenter/IndividualDevelopmentPlan.htm.
Science Careers has just released a particularly helpful online IDP, which also matches skills and interests to suggest potential alternative science careers.
3) Recommended reading:
Career planning advice, lab management, networking skills, etc. . . .
- Peer-review tips for young researchers (Nature Publishing Group)
- List of publications that delve deeper into what it means to be a Postdoctoral Fellow (Virtual Career Center, Medical College of Wisconsin)
- Professional Networking (Virtual Career Center, Medical College of Wisconsin)
- Lab Management (Virtual Career Center, Medical College of Wisconsin)
- Career Planning (Virtual Career Center, Medical College of Wisconsin)
- Careers Outside Academia (Virtual Career Center, Medical College of Wisconsin)
4) Responsible Conduct in Research, and resources on solving conflicts (National Postdoctoral Association)
5) Career Resources, from Duke University Office of Postdoctoral Services: Excellent site with a wide range of information, webinars, and YouTube videos of career planning sessions.
6) Science Careers
- Science Magazine (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
- Nature Publishing Group
7) Fellowships for Humanities Postdocs (listed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation): Rice, Stanford, UPenn among universities receiving these fellowships.
8) Alternative careers for Ph.D. Scientists:
- Career Exploration for Ph.D.s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Disciplines (Columbia University Center for Career Education)
- AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships
Editor’s note: If you have questions to ask or resources to add, please use the below comment section. If you have interest in contributing to the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN) blog by sharing about the postdoctoral journey (or other aspects of higher education), contact ESN .
Update: 10/13/2012. 12:07 pm; 10/4/2013. 7:45 am.
About the author:
Kelly Seaton lives in Durham, North Carolina (go Duke!), where she is an HIV vaccine researcher. She is a graduate of Messiah College and Penn State University-Hershey. Her cross-cultural experience includes studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, as well as traveling to Haiti and South Africa. She loves the movies Emma and The Shawshank Redemption. Outside of work, she loves hanging with friends, playing volleyball, and any and all outdoors. Her post Finding a Postdoc in the Sciences: Nailing the Interview is the most visited ESN blog post.
Andy Walsh says
As someone who is several years post-postdoc, I would strongly recommend taking a look at these resources. If you’re like me, it’s easy to be invested in the science part of doing science, but some of the other aspects of career building may come less naturally or even seem inscrutable. A certain measure of intentionality may be necessary to make the most of your time.
Also, Kelly, I think the word you were looking for is post-duchy.
Haha – thanks Andy!
Good links… Ephesians 3– yes!!
Agreed–love that surpasses all knowledge.