I had a previous post about the hunt for a postdoctoral position and the advice that I had received. I have emailed many different professors since that post. They are all generally involved in GPCR research. I think that combining my nuclear receptor experience with GPCR experience will make me more marketable in the long run.
So far, I have a few interviews scheduled. I am very nervous about these interviews, but I’ve been preparing slides and discussing the appropriate etiquette and expectations with the postdocs in my group.
I have a friend who recently interviewed in the same city as my first batch of interviews, so I’ve discussed lodging and activities with her. I won’t have very much free time, but I would like to use the small amount of free time to do something fun (hello, vegan restaurants and outdoor parks!). I know that I will start to over-analyze every detail of the interviews if I stay in the hotel room the entire time. I would again like to share some of the advice that I’ve heard so far.
(1) It is perfectly acceptable to over-dress. The last thing you want is to look uninterested or careless by under-dressing. My labmates suggested a nice shirt, black pants, and shoes that are comfortable enough to walk in for an entire day. Although some professors would be content with a polo shirt and khakis, it might be too casual for others. As female scientists, they said to be sure to look modest as a general rule. I can see how someone could be judged if they look a certain way at the interview. My sister called me modest over the holidays, so I don’t think that part will be tough for me.
(2) Manage your time well. I’m trying to find a position, go to interviews, and prepare for my defense. This means I need to allocate specific amounts of time to each task during the week, so I don’t set myself up for failure.
(3) Review guidelines for thesis production – several times, in fact. Consult with other students and the program advisor to clarify points that may be unclear. Our thesis guide is very vague, so I’ve been asking lots of questions. I want my thesis to flow well and be easy to understand, so I’ve been asking the postdocs how they organized their figures. Is it easier to include them throughout the chapter on their own page or all together at the end? (Throughout the chapter was the overwhelming answer, if you’re interested.)
(4) Practice your interview seminar. This is an obvious point.
(5) Be up to date on the published research for the professor who is interviewing you. You want to seem interested and show that you can stay up to date with the literature.
(6) You won’t know if you don’t try. I am really interested in the research of a few very, very famous scientists. I was telling a postdoc friend from another group that I was scared to email these scientists, because of their incredible contributions to the field. She said that if I never try, I will never know whether or not I had a chance to join those groups. That emboldened me enough to ask a faculty member trained by one of those scientists for information about the lab, which I considered as I prepared my email to that famous scientist.
(7) Use your network! As I said above, I consulted someone in my peripheral network for advice. I saw a professor listed on our seminar series list with an interesting talk title. I looked up his research online and immediately emailed him. He’s running a research center that I think could be a great match for my interests. I used my presence at Scripps Florida to get a chance to talk to him when he visits. It won’t cost him anything to talk to me here, so it’s a pre-screening step for him. Win-win!
(8) Check out your web presence. Google yourself. Update your LinkedIn page. Make sure you don’t have embarrassing/questionable photos of yourself publicly available. If you find something unpleasant online, do whatever you can to fix it!