it’s very hard for me to describe the grad school-to-postdoc transition, because so much of it to date has involved catching up on New Field and working on developing my independent project (separate from the one that pays my salary) while waiting for new equipment to arrive. here is where i give it a shot.
1. why i chose this group:
lots of factors. scientifically, it was a move i wanted to make. the field shift is in a direction i think is both important and really poorly understood, during a time when we really need to understand it. their interests and mine could really put some cool shit together.
career-development wise, my primary boss is successful, reputable as a very stand-up person, a literal fountain of solid career advice, and very supportive of the idea that a postdoc is a period of career development followed by a launch into the next step. since the field is pretty small, i didn’t have to go far to find someone who knew my primary boss very well. all accounts are very positive. i was not judged because i am unsure which direction i am taking my career after this postdoc.
i am being given a lot of freedom. i mean this both in my day to day life and in terms of creativity to develop my own line of investigation which may eventually leave with me. (and the taking it with me part has been discussed already.) second boss is full of ideas, and i think the two of us could sit down and really bounce some great things off each other. i am looking forward to trying this.
the people i work with are bright. motivation levels are a little lower than i’m used to, but i am not going to let that affect me. i find the group overall supportive, but i think my way of doing things is going to be fairly different. i’ve been given the freedom to do things my way, and i think i can make that work.
2. moving on from grad lab
it was hard to say goodbye to some people, but overall i was so happy to walk away from mega u. i do miss my interactions with phd mentor already… i realize now more than ever what a rare opportunity that was, and how much i’ve benefited from it.
3. getting settled in at postdoc lab
experimental startup here has been slow. frustratingly slow. i was hoping to dive right in to my first pilot experiment, instead i’ve been waiting on several factors. again, i think it’s just the differences in the way things work here. i’m looking forward to setting my own pace and blowing everyone away.
i’ve spent the unwanted downtime reading and putting together ideas for my independent project. all is not lost.
the entire group has been very welcoming. faculty are all very friendly and inviting- the two faculty who were present at my interview weekend/job talk were very enthused to see me. students seem intimidated, though i don’t get why. i am not competing with them. but if they ask naive questions, i won’t hesitate to set them straight.
there is another postdoc, though Other Postdoc (OP) has a very different career path. i make no judgment, it is just my observation that there are substantial differences in where we come from. this is good, it gives me another perspective- i could learn a lot from OP.
mid-level grad student and i have a very similar way of doing things. we’re both total fucking hardasses. i like this one. i am establishing good relationships with the techs- they’re really the ones with the inside scoop.
i’m consciously pushing myself harder. i’m working on the attitude shift that this is MY career now, this is my first job, even if it’s “just a postdoc” job. this is step 1 toward independence after the phd. this is where someone else is still funding me while i get on my feet and show the world what i can do.
the shift from endpoint(graduation)-driven to there-is-no-endpoint is challenging. i’ve always been a very goal-oriented person. i make lists and check them off, and that’s satisfying. transitioning to having no arbitrary endpoint like a graduation ceremony, and the shifting goals, and basically going into the great wide-open of careerism is a little daunting. i’m doing my best to tackle it.
5. maintaining connections
most importantly, i’m working to retain connections i’ve made along the way. phd mentor is an amazing ally to have in this field, and has always given me straightforward advice and criticism. grad lab postdoc-turned-junior-faculty is a dear, dear friend of mine who has been beyond supportive over the years as i’ve been a step or 2 behind in the career path. industry people who i’ve interviewed with during the job search, or who have been kind enough to grant me informational interviews, are valuable connections. even postdocs from other labs (friends of friends) who i have talked to and asked about lab culture- they are all in the same field, and are good people to keep connected with.
the more people i’m connected to, the better.
i’m paid monthly. i need a motherfucking paycheck already, but i’m still weeks out. first month of expenses in new city in different part of the country while still living on grad stipend SUCKS!
i guess that’s all that comes to mind right now. any other grad students about to make the transition, if you’ve got questions go ahead and ask.