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How to find a good postdoc in particle theory February 4, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics, Physics.

Well, the title of this post is the question that I keep asking myself since entering graduate school, albeit always in a different context. At school I was concerned with finding a good position (meaning, a good university and a great advisor). I was lucky to be a postdoc at Johns Hopkins and Cornell, my advisors were great people, amazing scientists and excellent teachers. Now, since becoming a faculty member myself, I’m concerned with filling a postdoc position that I have from time to time (in particular, this year). In other words, looking from another side…

And there are many specifics. What salary should be offered? It should come as no surprize that higher salary is better… well, except for that grant that pays for a postdoc can only allow for certain salary plus I also have to pay benefits, insurance, overhead (so in the end, each postdoc’s cost is salary times 1.8-2.0 if all that stuff is taken into account)… also postdoc should have some travel budget… Should we get a fresh-out-of-graduate-school person? Would that person be independent enough? Would I be able to learn from him/her? Should we get more senior person? Can we afford him/her?
Also, several things changed from the time when I was a postdoc. Even though it was only six years ago, things accelerated a lot. I remember that January was the time when people started making offers. It was great to get an offer early in the year – no worries until September-October, when you acually move to the new place! Just research, research, research! Now it is very different. A shortlist for WSU position was formed in mid-end of January — and it was a long short list. So I started contacting people on the list about their availability… big surprize! Half of them already committed to other places! Man! That was frustrating… Then, after talking to some of my colleagues at this conference, I realized that that’s not just me or WSU. Everything moved up by at least two months — first positions started filling up in November, at least according to this website. And for some reason people blamed MIT’s Pappalardo Fellowship for starting all this trend  (their deadline is REALLY early)…

Anyways, the offer has now been made… The problem is that the candidate is also on the shortlists for several faculty jobs… well, this is, of course, my problem — I honestly wish this person good luck — but that is yet another side of trying to find a good postdoc in particle theory…


1. Search Engine Terms: postdoc salary « Symmetry factor - March 19, 2007

[…] but at the end all those numbers are still in the same ballpark (I already talked about that here). The only exception would be national labs (FNAL/ANL/BNL/SLAC/…) where salaries are […]

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