Five Do’s and Don’ts
as a Postdoctoral Scholar
For students close to finishing their Ph.D. program, a natural question of “what next” may be answered by searching, applying, and getting a postdoctoral (or
postdoc) position. A postdoc position
in a dynamic and energetic group may
advance your career significantly, by
contributing to impactful publications,
writing grant proposals, and providing
funding for your research. For many,
it can also be a precursor to landing a
job as a professor. A successful postdoc
tenure comes with the success of the
postdoc, Ph.D. students, and the postdoc’s mentor. Here are five do’s and
don’ts for a postdoctoral student.
1. Work well with students. The life
of a postdoc is different from the life
of a Ph.D. student. While Ph.D. students focus on a single problem, a
postdoc is expected to work on multiple problems and to collaborate with
several Ph.D. students. New postdocs
get motivated by their long Ph.D. journey, during which they have developed
several skills. Such expertise may
empower Ph.D. students. Your own
experience may not only save their
time, but may also put some weight in
building strong collaborations with
2. Inspire students. The postdoc
tenure comes with several responsibilities. You are not responsible just for
yourself but are also responsible for the
entire group of B.S., M.S., and/or Ph.D.
students. Your experience, knowledge,
and wisdom may help all students.
Recall the struggles you faced during
the start of your Ph.D. and build on it
to motivate students and help them
succeed. A postdoc always needs to re-
member that the students’ successes
are your success (and students’ failures
are your failure).
3. Help your postdoc mentor. Your
new advisor may have a different
working style than your Ph.D. advisor.
Therefore, you should focus on building a legitimate relationship between
you and your postdoc advisor. You are
a vital person in their group; thus, you
can help your new mentor in several
ways. One of the important things that
you can do is write grant proposals. A
well-written grant proposal might not
only help procure money for the group
but will also help you to build your expertise, which would be invaluable in
your pursuit of an academic career.
Remember someone else once wrote
a proposal, which helped you acquire
funding. Now, this is the time for you to
help your mentor in writing a propos-
al, which may help future (unknown)
postdocs (or even you, if you decide not
to leave the group).
4. Learn from students. Every student has some skills that you can learn
from. Be it discovering or formulating new problems, solving problems,
developing algorithms, proving algorithms, or implementing algorithms.
There is always an area for you to learn
and grow. Since you will be working
with multiple students, you should use
this as an opportunity to learn and enrich your knowledge.
5. Friendship. This might be the
most important point to remember.
When we work hard, we need to have
fun just as hard. However, balance is
necessary. Thus, having a mutually
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