How will my career be affected if I do a second postdoctoral fellowship?  


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January 2, 2019 9:53 pm  

How will my career be affected if I do a second postdoctoral fellowship?

This topic was modified 5 months ago by Bio Careers

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January 3, 2019 3:55 pm  

Many postdoctoral researchers do two or more postdoctoral appointments, and many go on to develop successful academic research careers. Some people choose to do a second or third postdoc from the desire to learn a new skill, whereas others are forced to do a second postdoc from necessity (a problem supervisor, lack of funding, spouse employment opportunities, highly specialized field where there are too few jobs, and so on).


However, many researchers believe that it is a mistake to do a more than two postdocs, especially as part of a long-term career plan. For example, some people plan to do a first postdoc to learn new methods, and a second to learn to develop a scientific career. A better strategy may be to combine these two functions into a single postdoctoral fellowship. In the current academic job market, obtaining a permanent position is a difficult challenge: the likelihood of obtaining such as position begins to decrease after perhaps five to six years of postdoc research, and drops sharply after ten years. It is therefore important to plan to do a focused, productive postdoc and finish within five years.

Doing a second postdoc -- or spending too much time in a first postdoc -- can be a serious impediment to a career in industry. Researchers who spend too many years in postdoctoral positions are often labeled as too academic for industry jobs.

Dave Jensen
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January 3, 2019 3:57 pm  

Thanks Lisa, good comments. I would say that I generally agree with you. Most hiring managers in biotechnology companies want to see a postdoc, because they did one and it was important to them. While trying to get away without a postdoc is tough, having too many years of postdoc experience is indeed a deal killer, for sure.

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January 9, 2019 9:45 pm  

Although I didnt do a postdoc myself I would say that doing one successful postdoc shows that you can be productive without the support of your PhD supervisor. I have seen examples of students being far into their PhD studies when the supervisor gets to the conclusion that the student doesnt have what it takes but decides to support them to completion of their PhD due to that they already have so much invested in that student that it is beneficial to help them get through and get their exam instead of starting over with a new student.

The alternative is to find another way to show what you can do. If you want an industry career options includes working with an industry contact during your PhD, doing your degree work or parts of your PhD thesis with industry or at least working with a supervisor with good industry contacts. An academic career without a postdoc is probably something that is even more difficult to acheive but others have to provide advice on that topic.

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