Follow-up thought on applying for postdocs

Given my background in stats, I admit to a tendency to classify variables.

So… first you have to decide which, for you, are deal breaking variables. I’d include trainees (plural) that talk trash about the mentor, vague hand-waving when talking about projects, people who don’t return your call/email (ever).

Then there are variables that get thrown into the hopper and balanced out: what you think of the projects, how many people in the lab, are projects shared, what are former trainees doing, age of mentor, etc.

When I decided to go to grad school, I narrowed it down to two rather different situations (although the PI’s were long time collaborators). I made a list of what was important and gave each factor a weight between 0 & 1. I think I had a list of about 30. Then separately (on other days), I sat down and ranked both places on each variable (without looking at values of variables). I did the calculation. They came out too close to be statistically meaningful. So I flipped a coin. I swear I decided where to go to grad school on a coin flip. No regrets about what transpired.


4 thoughts on “Follow-up thought on applying for postdocs

  1. Dang, a coin flip? I wrote to one potnetial PhD supervisor who, coincidentally, decided to take on two grad students at once (first time he’d done so). Why was that potentially important? I wasn’t from Oxbridge, the other student was (who has gone on to great things). I guess I had a lucky two headed coin.

  2. Not sure I’d recommend it, but its kinda like the episode where Picard gets to go back and relive his youth with an old man’s caution.

  3. We all choose our advisors for different reasons I guess. I chose mine for two reasons: first he was an exceptional molecular biologist who always asked the most salient question in journal clubs and seminars and secondly, although he was considered a real dick to people out side his lab, the people inside his lab seemed to be content and productive. They were also protected from the dickishness. SOLD!

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