Monday, July 15, 2013

Design your own postdoc

  As anticipated, it's been a busy summer. Good, in many ways - the intern I work with is great, and I have no trouble trusting them with lots of lab work and readings. My trips so far for research have been lovely, with visits with friends and swims in beautiful lakes interspersed between work. The next couple weeks, though, look to be even more hectic, as the last-minute scramble for data before a conference catches me despite my best-laid plans, and as grant deadlines start looming.
Because I can't just find my next postdoc/research position the traditional way (that would be too boring! And probably in a state nowhere near family, which frankly is not an option), I helped write a grant preproposal with the idea that I would be a postdoc for it. The full proposal demands a mentoring plan for postdocs, and I've taken on the task of writing it. After a half-hearted first attempt, I got the feedback to 'write exactly what you want from a postdoc'. Sounds easy, but I'm still having trouble. I've written about the conferences I want to attend, the mentoring I want to do, the classes I want to guest lecture in, and the feedback and advice on publishing, applying for jobs, and managing a lab I want to get from the other PIs.
  But there's another aspect that I feel silly putting into words: real and meaningful support, that is, I want them to push me and push for me, and to want a good permanent position for me as much as I want it. As my relationship with my thesis advisor starts souring, in part due to an overworked manuscript, I realize that I want someone to pull for me in a way that's always been lacking for that particular relationship. Isn't that what we all want? To be introduced as '...., my postdoc. You should hire her'. Although that's definitely too personal for a grant, it's what I've realized can really make a difference in a position.
  Well, as I suspected and hoped, writing this post has given me a bunch of ideas for the mentoring plan. So even though I won't be putting those ineffable wants into it, I will, I hope, have a clear path and specific details about the amazing experience our postdocs/I will have. Fingers really crossed the panel likes the science, too!

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