Researchers should guide postdocs toward suitable careers
An article in the June 2011 issue of the journal Nature addresses why and how researchers should help their postdocs with job searches.
A postdoc who goes on to a fulfilling, fruitful career isn’t the only one who benefits. Her success elevates her mentor’s reputation, as well as the reputations of associated labs and institutions.
Recognizing a postdoc’s traits and fitting them to a career path is important, according to Arizona State University mathematical biologist Carlos Castillo-Chavez. He dissuades his less-driven postdocs from seeking work in stressful settings, like the finance industry, or in academic positions that entail supervision of others and frequent grant-writing.
Castillo-Chavez, a Regents’ Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, understands the importance of investing in mentees' futures. He spent weeks helping a postdoc – now a full professor – practice interviewing skills and gain confidence in discussing current events.
“It is sometimes surprising how unprepared postdocs are for a job interview,” he said.
His advice to mentees is to research those who will be interviewing them and ask questions about their work, and also be prepared to converse on local matters, like culture, schools and housing.