Ready, Set, Go! The Post-Doc Search is On
By: Elena A. Yegorova
So you’ve finished all your thesis research and got the final go-ahead from your advisor to look for a job? Or maybe you are a graduate student wondering what awaits you once you defend your thesis?
The good news is that there is a sea of opportunities open to you with a Ph.D. in Atmospheric or Oceanic Sciences. So where to start? You definitely start with the people closest to you – your thesis advisors, graduated friends, friends of friends, etc. These are the people that can directly recommend you to potential post-doc advisors or future employers. If you’ve made some contacts during conferences or student visits to government agencies – now is the time to dig up those business cards and old emails. Get linked in at Linkedin.com and browse connections open to you through your friends.
The Washington Metro area is bursting with government agencies hiring recent Ph.D. graduates as contractors or entry-level government employees. Below is a list of sites that will help you look for post-doc positions.
Check out the ESSIC employment link for research opportunities for recent grads. (http://essic.umd.edu/jobs )
The National Research Council (http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/rap/) – is a great resource to look for research laboratories across the nation, including NOAA, NRL, and ARL in the D.C. area. You select an agency, meet with a potential advisor, and then discuss your research ideas. Next you submit a research proposal to the National Research Council, and await approval by the review panel. If you are selected, the funding agency will make the final call, whether funds are available to support your work. This might sound like a complicated process, but it is a great resource to scope out different research opportunities at different agencies. And the proposal writing step is wonderful practice for future proposal submissions in your scientific career.
Some agencies are not in the National Research Council list of research laboratories. Check out the websites for agencies like NASA to look for post-doc applications directly through those agencies. For example: http://nasa.orau.org/postdoc/. The application process will be very similar to the NRC application – meet with a scientist, write a proposal, and present your thesis research as a seminar.
If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, look through positions available on www.usajobs.gov. Your C.V. needs to reflect the advertized job description, because a robot program screens all resumes before referring them to a hiring manager. But beware that application review process for government agencies is lengthy (sometimes up to a 6 months) and sometimes the advertisements are posted already having dozens of on-site contractors in line for the position.
Look through advertisements in scientific union newspapers (like the AGU EOS) for job opportunities across the country.
For career building, don’t forget to visit your campus career center (like the University of Maryland Career Center). There you can beef up your C.V. or resume and find out information about upcoming campus career fairs. Sometimes contacts you make at career fairs can help you get the job.
Also be sure to attend the Annual Post-Doc Conference held in Rockville, MD (http://postdocconference.org/), which connects post-docs with private companies and government agencies in the D.C. area.
Remember, if an opportunity that you really want eludes you, there must be something more exciting waiting for you in another company or agency. You just don’t know it yet. Keep on looking and good luck in your career pursuits!
If you have other resources you want to share with others, please, add in the comment box below.