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Approaching professor about a post-doc

User: potatoes - 09 March 2012 10:14

Hi All, I am currently a PhD student, in my final year and close to submitting (touch wood).  My mind has started to turn to working afterwards and I am really interested one idea. The concept is relatively new in my area research but I have searched the literature and found two people researching the same thing.  I would like to do a post doc in this area and was wondering how I go about it. Do you just approach a professor and ask for possible post doc positions? i.e. send an email and ask them straight up?  Or do you have to wait until you see a position advertised? Cheers, Potatoes

User: mhk - 09 March 2012 10:39

The best thing to do is to get in touch with them either by post or face-to-face. People often don't reply to emails as they take them less seriously. Before you do this I would first research possible areas of funding (from an arts/science council etc).

User: potatoes - 09 March 2012 12:19

Thanks Mhk. I am currently in the UK and the two people I am thinking of contacting are in Hong Kong and USA. Its hard to meet them face to face. However, not impossible over the next 6 months. Should I post them a letter of intro and a resume?

User: mhk - 10 March 2012 02:27

Yeah I think that is the best thing to do. I am from the UK too but am now postdocing abroad, so I was in a very similar situation to yourself. Do you know anyone that has connections with either of those two? That could also help your chances of success...

User: Elsie - 10 March 2012 04:57

Hi Potatoes, As Mhk mentioned, I think funding is usually the key issue. Maybe you are already doing this, but when you contact these people, I think you need to ask something like "I am interested in working with you on topic x, we could apply for [funding scheme xx], would you be willing to work with me to put in an application?" If you have a reasonably good CV, I would think you'd be taken seriously. But I wouldn't ask "do you have any post doc positions available", the answer is probably no, unless one is advertised, and you risk your email just being deleted. At least this would be the case in my field, can't speak for others though. Also I agree with Mhk on the connections- that helps a lot, especially if you could list one as a reference, or mention you have worked with them.

User: potatoes - 10 March 2012 13:28

Thanks for the replies. That gives me a better idea about how to approach professors when asking about possible post doc positions. I dont know the professors personally, and dont have any connections to them. I had been thinking about future research interests and found an article written by these professors which was very similar to my own idea. Thus, the interest in a post doc. mhk, did you find your post doc by 'creating' the position or responding to an advertisment? Elsie, the funding aspect would be a good avenue to pursue. Thanks for the tip. I will look into how funding works in HK and USA. Cheers, Potatoes

User: Elsie - 11 March 2012 06:34

Also look into UK/EU funding that you could take with you. I know of someone who got a pretty good deal with some EU funding to do a postdoc abroad (Australia). Your current uni should have someone at the research funding office who can help point you in the right direction. Good luck!

User: mhk - 12 March 2012 00:31

I created the position by applying for my own funding, although it turned out that the PI has quite a bit of money tucked away so I could start the postdoc before finding out about my own award.

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