2 responses to “Would a postdoc have helped?”

  1. GMP

    I also got a TT position straight out of a PhD. In hindsight, I wish I had done a postdoc as hopefully some things would not have been such a huge surprise and would not have had such a steep learning curve — proposal writing is a good example. A similar thing goes for writing papers and advising students — for instance, you aren’t perhaps sure where your deficiencies in writing may lie until you are completely on your own, no coauthors to hide behind. You need to discover new avenues of research, and overall sink or swim completely on your own merit (and lift or drag down your students with you). There was a lot of learning on the job, that’s for sure (even though I published prolifically as a grad student, it’s not the same as doing it as a PI, in new subfields and with inexperienced minions. And grant writing is a completely different ballgame.)

    However, I survived and got tenure and I am sure you will too.

    But, I have had a postdoc for 2 years now and it’s amazing how much he has grown in the two years. He says repeatedly how happy he is that he took it because we managed to iron out some serious deficiencies in his writing and presentations (he now writes fast and writes very well; it was quite bad when he first started). He has published a lot and got lots of exposure at many conferences. He was able to co-write grants with me, and he has had a jump-start with advising students and proposing new research topics all on his own. I can totally see him as a faculty right now, whereas he didn’t seem like much of one 2 years ago.

    I think a postdoc (not like those insanely long 6+ yr stints that biomed folks have), but lasting 2-3 years, in a good group with a mentor who really looks out for your and makes sure you advance professionally in all the necessary skills can be a really good thing. Perhaps a postdoc may not be absolutely necessary in some disciplines, but I think it can be a good idea overall — when done right, it’s not exploitative, but gives you a chance to ride the TT bike with training wheels for a bit.

  2. Nicoleandmaggie

    As my DH comes up for tenure, the answer is unequivocally YES. With engineering, there’s so much to learn about management… not just the science but how to manage people, resources, grants etc. A post-doc where you can focus on those aspects of what the professor does would have saved a lot of time and lost resources on the job. Not to mention how to work on something that isn’t exactly the same as and requiring the same resources as the graduate lab’s.