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028: Making Time for Kids When Everyone Else Stays Late

If you have kids, you’ve experienced “the time shift.”

Where you used to have hobbies, you now have a drive to soccer practice.  Where you used to have dinner out, you now have dinner, dishes, bath-time, stories, and bedtime, IN.

And where you used to stay late in the lab to finish an experiment, you now rush out at 5 to avoid the late fee at daycare.

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020: Do I really need to do a postdoc?

As you near the end of your graduate school training, you will feel defeated, worn out, and ready to take a nice, peaceful job at that bookstore down the street.  But if your career goals include leaving the bookstore and returning to lab, you’re probably considering postdoctoral training.  Question is: do you really need to do a postdoc?

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Later that day: “I haven’t smelled β-mercaptoethanol in ages. This is great!”

To Do, or Not To Do

Fifty years ago, you could finish your PhD and be offered a faculty position, no questions asked.  Twenty years ago, you’d get that same faculty position after doing a lengthy postdoc.  But the times have changed, and not everyone wants to jump on the tenure track.  That means there are some of us who don’t need a postdoc and shouldn’t do one.

There are a few clear cases where a postdoc is an unstated requirement, but there are also times where grad students take a postdoc because they haven’t figured out what they want to do with their degrees.  That means  you can actually avoid the entire process.

We’ll talk about the different types of jobs you can achieve as a scientist in academics and industry, and whether the postdoc will help you get there.  The key is deciding early what you want to do and getting a job BEFORE you graduate.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Lager

We finally break down and sample a Pumpkin Ale from Schlafly Beer in St. Louis, MO.  It’s tastily-spiced, but not over the top like some of these brews that made the bottom of the Paste Magazine pumpkin beer taste-test.  You’ll see flavor phrases like “road tar,” “licorice,” and “Ipecac.”  Yuk!  

014: Postdoc Straight Talk Part 2: PostTalk

The moment you finish grad school, a weight is lifted from your shoulders.  You’re free to follow your scientific passion and publish your discoveries in top-tier journals.  But don’t get TOO comfortable, because we’ve already started the countdown on your temporary position…

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Last week, we asked postdocs what they loved and hated about their jobs.  This week, we try to discover the common themes.  Postdocs love the autonomy and freedom they feel as they push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, but why is the “system” forcing them to move on after just five years?  And why is the pay-scale derived from a dark-ages fiefdom with serfs and vassals?

Postdocs in 2015 are happy to use their skills to pursue new branches of scientific inquiry, but they’re frustrated by postdoc limbo status.  They long for the salary and benefits of their “muggle” (non-magical/scientific) peers, and wish they had spent more time building their CVs with the bullet-point experience that could help them land a job in teaching or industry.

In the end, they offered valuable advice for other scientists advancing through graduate school.  Whether you’re an incoming PhD student or a postdoc completing year five, you’ll benefit from the wisdom, experience, and “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-did” insights of the postdocs we interviewed.

Also in this episode, we sample something old, something new, something black, and something tan.  Okay, so it’s basically a fairly new Black and Tan from Berkshire Brewing.  They call it “Shabadoo,” and it’s a porter/ale mix blended with precision in Massachusetts.  Shabba-dabba-doo!

 

 

 

013: Postdoc Straight Talk

Ep13

If you met him on the street, you’d never suspect that mild-mannered Clark Kent was actually the indomitable Superman. And there’s a chance that you’re ignoring the real superheroes walking around your lab every day. They’ve escaped from graduate school Krypton and are flourishing under the yellow sun of independent research. They’re postdocs, and churning out high-quality papers is their super power.

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Pro tip: Wait to tear off your shirt until AFTER you’ve left the building. Otherwise, the doorman will see your leotard.

This week on the show, we unmask unassuming postdocs in labs across the country and find out what really makes them tick. What do they love about their new-found freedoms? What do they hate about their “science trainee” status? And what one thing would they change about this phase of their scientific careers?

Besides the salary, of course…

After earning a PhD, your perspective shifts and you begin to see all the mistakes you made in grad school. So we asked each postdoc what they wish they had known as a graduate student. This advice could change your life and alter your career path, but only if you choose to heed their advice!