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060: The Right (And Wrong) Ways to Contact Potential Postdoc Advisors

Dear Dr. Scientist,

I’m writing to tell you how much I admire your work in the field of science that you study.  Your lab has done some tremendous work researching very important topics of significance.  I just loved your latest research article and I’m sure it made your university or institution proud!

In any case, I’m looking for a postdoc position in a lab like yours.  Please let me know what day I can start.

Sincerely,

A Grad Student

If you want to end up in University spam filters, then just copy and paste this email to everyone in the department.

If you’d like that postdoc advisor to take notice and invite you for an interview, we have some tips for making contact and getting a response!

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055: Four Ideas to Modernize Mentorship – #modernPhD Part 2

Today, a graduate student will make a terrible mistake.

He’ll blindly commit to a long-term relationship that will make him miserable.  He’ll be too shy to ask his partner the painfully awkward questions that could predict their ultimate failure as a team.

Does this person have time for me?  Is she enthusiastic about helping me succeed?  Do our goals align?

Of course, this is not a romantic relationship: it’s the commitment formed between a grad student and his advisor.  And though it’s not a marriage, it can cover some of the same emotional ground.  When it’s healthy, you’ll both grow as people and you’ll achieve more than you would alone.

When it’s unhealthy, you might bear the emotional scars for the rest of your life.

With just a few simple changes to the graduate-advisor relationship, we can make sure more students, and their mentors, reach their full potential.  Why leave it to chance?

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051: Should I change labs or quit grad school?

Jessica was finishing her third year of grad school when she finally decided she had had enough.

Funding had gotten tighter, and her PI had basically checked out.  Many of her lab-mates saw the writing on the wall, and left their projects behind to find other work. With no support from her advisor or peers, she had little hope of turning things around.

And then her thesis project – the one she just proposed and defended – was scooped by a competing lab and published in a major journal.  It was the last straw.

Jessica had three options:

  1. She could quit immediately, and have no degree to show for her three years of work.
  2. She could find some portion of the project to salvage as a Master’s thesis.
  3. She could start all over and try to find a new lab.

Amazingly, she chose Option 3.

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042: I’m a Fifth Year, and I’m Stuck in a Rut

The good news is that your research project has gone well over the last few years, and you got your paper published.

The bad news is that you published everything in that one paper, and you’re out of ideas.

And you’re five years into the program.

And your PI doesn’t want to help you anymore.

How, exactly, are you supposed to get your research project out of the rut and back on track so you can graduate?

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