Join the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council!:
1. Develop initiatives and programs to enhance the postdoctoral experience at Penn.
2. Cultivate leadership skills and “soft skills” that enhance your marketability.
3. Meet and network with other postdocs in different fields throughout the university.
Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month at 5:00 and are open to all postdocs. Please join us!
For more information, please visit our website: www.med.upenn.edu/bpc, or email us: pcouncil-at-mail.med.upenn.edu
By Caleph B. Wilson
Now that we have moved on from the structured world of the PhD candidate, taking the lessons learned with us is imperative for future success in the scientific enterprise within and outside of academia. Along the way, technical skills were gained, papers were published, and we somehow convinced our thesis advisors and at least two other people to write solid letters of recommendation.
For all of that have successfully obtained our PhDs, there is one thing that we can agree on, IT WAS AN EXERCISE IN SELF-‐MOTIVATION! We should begin to consistently view our postdoctoral experiences not just in terms of technical training but the development of your overall marketability.
Moreover, in a recent career workshop hosted by Career Services, Peter Fiske highlighted the importance of these skills when he said, “Most postdocs think that their most important skills are the technical ones they developed in grad school. Not so. The most important are the broader set of transferrable skills they have developed along the way.” Unfortunately, conversations with postdocs indicate many of these lessons have not been transferred to the postdoctoral experience. Postdocs must/should keep these things in mind from day one of our postdoctoral fellowship. Consequently, our marketability will be enhanced not just in bench training but beyond.
Together, this tells me our graduate work taught us: 1.) persistence, 2.) successful networking, and 3.) appropriate use of resources.
As a group of self-‐motivated professionals, the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council strongly encourages postdocs to lean on the lessons learned from our pre-‐ doctoral training. For example, Ph.D. thesis committee members usually provide the letters of recommendation for our postdoc applications. They witnessed us go down in the flames of ill-‐conceived experiments and rise from the ashes like the mythical phoenix. Consequently, committee members are great at evaluating our strengths and weaknesses. Why? We had to convince them to be comfortable enough to put their professional reputation on the line to give us a PhD. In order to do that, we needed to be persistent, integrate them into our professional network and utilize their expertise/experience.
Retaining the “complete” experiences of your Ph.D. training is just as important as maintaining the “hands” to perform the specific techniques acquired during the process. As we move through our postdoctoral training, it is imperative to keep the totality of our experiences/training out front. Consequently, postdocs will be able to harness the wealth of opportunities and effectively navigate the increasing competitive job markets of academia, industry or government.
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