say's timeline

Say, in his mid-twenties, completed a BA prior to beginning the PhD in 2007 in Canada. He chose to pursue doctoral work because of his interest in research, and he was funded by a national scholarship. When he joined this study, Say had completed his comprehensives and the data analysis for his dissertation, and had 6 peer-reviewed publications. Finishing his PhD, when he and his partner had their first child, he turned down more than one post-doc contract because he didn’t want to do the same work as his PhD. Ultimately, he got a contract he liked which involved moving across the country. Say and his partner had their first child during his final year of the PhD, and second child during the second year his post-doc work. He still wanted a research-teaching position but set a deadline for achieving it.

What struck us about Say’s story was: 

Birth of two children. 

Change in research focus between PhD and post-doc. 

Consistent desire to work in academia. 

 

PhD

Year 5

Post-PhD

 

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

 

PhD

Year 5

...

A competitor published data that he was working on; noted there is “always someone working on the same things”.

Hoped to get a research-teaching position in North America.

Child was born, meant he spent significantly more time with partner and baby.

...

...

Having baby helped improve time management;  “it is surprising how much more you can get done when you have a kid”.

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Provided feedback to another student on PhD defence, which made him feel like an academic.

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...

Communicated with a collaborator, which made him like an academic and “less of a student/trainee”.

...

 

 Post-PhD

 

Year 1 

...

Spent time editing thesis in preparation for submission, and found his supervisor’s feedback very useful.

...

...

...

Hoped to get a postdoc position and eventually work in academia in North America.

Caring for baby became easier as child grew; helped that in his group, “it’s not uncommon for graduate students to have children”.

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Thesis defense delayed due to departmental policy.

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Completed PhD and began work as temporary postdoc in his PhD lab.

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Applied for positions looking for  something different; a post-doc is meant to “broaden your skills”.

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Was offered 3-4 postdocs in previous research focus, but turned down.

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Published in high impact journal as first author, which was “positive,” but noted that “publications are not everything …connections you have play an  equivalent role”.

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Relocating meant partner wouldn’t initially work in order to care for child.

...

Took position in another city in a field of research “quite different” from his PhD.

 

Post-PhD

Year 2

Reassessed whether partner should look for a job.

Began post-doc position.

Planned to pursue career in academia; hoping for pre-tenure position.

Felt that staying in current location was better for career, as there are more local institutions to choose from.

Applied for funding, which consumed much of his time.

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...

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Gave himself 3-year deadline to find academic position; would then consider work in industry.

 

Post-PhD

Year 3

Second child was born.

Awarded a post-doc fellowship.

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Presented a conference poster, where he received good feedback.

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Interacted with new faculty members and other lab members; collaborated more as a post-doc than as a PhD.

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Continued to be excited about science, and had a number of publications.

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...

Still hoped for tenure-track, but still a deadline.

 

What struck us

Birth of two children.

Change in research focus between PhD and post-doc.

Consistent desire to work in academia.

your

Story

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Researcher Identity Development (2017). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License