Hello again! I made it back from a super-awesome conference, only to be slammed by a fairly crappy week. But more on that later. Today, I would like to talk about the postdoc career panel discussion. Spoiler alert: I think they are a craptastic (not in a good way).
In the short time since my appointment as an assistant professor, I have sat on several "career panels" for postdocs. In general, I have agreed to participate because they are organized by a student/postdoc association. I want to be supportive of these groups. At my old institute, the Postdoc Association group was a great voice for the postdoc population, championed diversity and was a useful resource for folks that were trying to find a non-academic career path. But, TBH each time I sit on one of these panels I becoming more convinced they are a giant waste of time. Take the last one. This panel included a couple of tt-asst. prof from MRU, faculty from area PUI, faculty from a local community college, and biotech/pharma scientists. If you are a postdoc in academia, these are the most obvious career options. Why would you need a panel to learn about them?
Now, I admit, I did not attend many (any?) of these sorts of things when I was a postdoc. So it may be that I just don't get it. When I was a postdoc, I was trying to land a tenure-track job. So, when I had questions or needed some guidance I would go talk to one of the many TT faculty that I respected. Not to mention some great advice online, much of which has been aggregated by Dr. Becca. From what I have observed vicariously the process is similar for other career paths, though it may be more difficult to find the people doing the job that you are interested in. I assumed that the career panels were supposed to connect postdocs with folks doing the jobs they want. But instead we just all sit around talking about what seems obvious. Then, if I'm lucky there are snacks or a wine reception. But really, it is 1-2 h of my life that I will never get back.
So, dear reader(s), help me out here. If you are/were a postdoc, do you go to these events? If so, why? Is there something that I could be doing that would make these more useful? Because I'm gonna need to be sold before I agree to be on another one of these.