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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…

keep-calm-the-countdown-has-begun

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!

002: Post-doc salary, absent PIs, and the secret of landing industry jobs

Proposed rules could boost post-doc salary
Is that guy left-handed? Let’s all watch to find out!

The Obama administration has proposed some new rules that would give overtime pay to salaried workers making less than $50,400 per year.  Who cares?  Many post-docs who make the NIH recommended $42,840 seem to care!

In this episode, we explore whether the new rules would apply to post-docs, and how post-doc salary has stagnated over the last ten years.  If you have a dog in this fight, be sure to register your opinion on the regulations.gov website before the September deadline.

What do you do if you need help in lab, and the PI is never around?  A grad student asks:

I’m doing a rotation in a fairly well-known micro lab, and the PI isn’t around much.  I’m working under a Post-doc, but he’s really busy, and every time I ask for help he tells me he’ll help me later.  I’ve lost a couple of weeks waiting on him – what should I do?

Is an online application good enough to land an industry job, or are there steps you can take to improve your chance of getting noticed?  A job-searching scientists writes:

I’m looking for industry jobs, and I found one that sounds interesting at a local biotech company.  I applied using their online portal, but I’m wondering if there’s something else I can do to improve my chances of getting an interview.

Last but not least, we embrace our inner hipsters by drinking Dale’s Pale Ale and we uncover the hidden meaning of the word “autoclave.”  It doesn’t mean “sterilizer!”