Careers in Science Series: Preparing for Academia

Sunday, November 16, 2014

If you are planning to go on the academic job market, there are several things you need to prepare before putting together your application packet. First, you need to make sure you are ready. This is a discussion that you need to have with your PI and not just the month before you start submitting applications! You and your PI should have this discussion at least a year in advance. You also need to have an open discussion with your PI about what (if any) of your project you are allowed to take with you.

My recommendation of things you should be doing to prepare to go on the academic job market:

  • Make sure this is what you want to do. The academic route is challenging and the job market is super competitive.
  • Publish, Publish, Publish! I don’t think there is a magic number of publications that you need or specific journals that you need to publish in to get a job, but you do need a strong publication record that demonstrates you can do good science.
  • Get your name out there by attending and presenting at conferences and meetings. Some jobs are never advertised, so it’s a good idea the year or two before you go on the job market to get out there and network with others in your field.
  • Have a general idea of what you plan to work on when you start your own lab. Putting together a research plan takes a lot of time and is something you aren’t going to be able to throw together the week before an application is due. Stay up-to-date on the literature and make a short list of potential specific aims.
  • Apply for transition funding like the K99/R01. Having some sort of transition award will be a great benefit to you while you are on the job market.
  • Seek out teaching experience opportunities like mentoring a summer student, giving a few guest lectures, or running a journal club.
  • Keep your CV up-to-date.

In my next post, I will share some of my favorite tips for finding academic research positions.

Check out the other related blog posts in the Careers in Science series:

Category: Careers