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064: A PhD Internship Will Help You Get a Job

You might think internships are the domain of business students and undergrads.  You’re training every day in a lab – why would you need more experiential learning?

The short answer is that your laboratory training is a great internship if you want to go on to a faculty position at a major research university.

But what if you want to use your scientific training to craft policy and legislation in your state government?

Or what if you want to work with a Contract Research Organization and help shepherd new drugs through clinical trials?


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.


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!


048: Where the (Wild) Postdocs Are

Shhhh!  There he is.  Behind that rack of Eppendorf tubes….

The elusive ‘Postdoctoral Fellow’ in his native habitat!

If we’re quiet, we may be able to observe him as he completes an experiment, writes a few paragraphs in a grant proposal, and nurtures his young (i.e. graduate students.)

Postdocs are difficult to study in the wild, and no one knows exactly how many of them exist outside of captivity.

But thanks to a recent study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), we are starting to understand their migration patterns as they leave the safety of the training lab and venture into the wider world.


047: How many postdocs are there? The answer may surprise you!

It sounds like a simple question: how many postdocs are there in the United States?

Maybe you want to know because you ARE a postdoc and you’re thinking about what kind of competition you’ll face for a faculty position.

Maybe you’re a program manager at the NIH, and you’d like to direct extra funding toward STEM training and postdoctoral positions.

Or maybe you’re a university administrator, and you’re wondering how the new labor laws will affect salaries this year.

Well, too bad. No one actually knows how many postdocs there are.


045: Finally, some good news for postdoc salary!

Postdocs are some of the most productive scientists on the planet, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at a pay stub.  For years now, postdoc salaries have remained stagnant in the low $40,000s, causing many young scientists to find other careers in other industries.

But a recently announced bill from the Department of Labor could boost postdoc salary with the stroke of a pen.  Dubbed “FLSA” (Fair Labor Standards Act), employees earning less than the $47,476 per year would have to be paid overtime or have their hours cut back to 40 per week.

Last we checked, most postdocs fit that description!