Finding out what to do next following your PhD can be a tough decision. The most obvious choice is to carry out PostDoctoral research, you have already proved yourself as a scientist by completing a PhD so carrying onto do a postdoc seems to be easy choice for many researchers. Personally, I wanted to continue my research, after 5 years in the lab I became passionate about what I researched and decided to carry on to postdoctoral research to build on the skills and knowledge I developed. Based on the experiences that I had I decided to write these four thoughts on why to do postdoctoral research following your PhD.
1. Finish Papers
Just because you may have finished your PhD it doesn’t mean that you have finished the necessary experiments to publish your research or lose lead authorship on your paper. For most PhDs this is definitely the cause with many PhDs required to carry out postdoctoral research to finalize figures for papers, respond to comments from editors or continue with half started projects that have unveiled some interesting results.
2. Find out whether you want to become an academic
Unfortunately the only career path to become a tenured professor is to carry out postdoctoral research following your PhD. A postdoc gives you the opportunity to test the waters and figure out whether you would be suited for the academic life. This is due to the amount of grants your will most likely write during your postdoc. Unlike your PhD, writing grants during your Postdoc will become part of your everyday tasks, writing grants to extend your contract, scholarships or get some extra equipment into the lab will be a necessity. Also, showing a CV of successful grant writing is imperative to become tenured at the University.
3. Move to another University
For some researchers a lifetime can be spent at the same university, they carry out their undergraduate degree, Masters degree and PhD degree at the same university making their CV look like a prison sentence. Moving to a new university, whether the university is in the same city or internationally, will look good on your CV. It will show that your can work with different lab groups, in an international environment and will also give you a chance to move up the academic rankings ladder and apply for postdoctoral positions at some of the worlds leading universities.
4. Soul searching
Not knowing what to do after your PhD is extremely common. Unfortunately a direct career path that doesn’t involve becoming a Professor is not obvious following your PhD. During your PhD you may carry out a lot of soul searching on deciding on whether a life in academia is for you. For many people carrying on to postdoctoral research can be a default position, not knowing on what to do next and taking the easy option to continue getting paychecks. For me I knew I had to carry on to postdoctoral research. I had put in so much effort, late nights, financial input and commitment. For me carrying out a postdoc was a chance for me to move to a top university, University of Cambridge in this case, prove to myself that I was a good scientist and take the opportunity to add a great university to my CV.