Most of us that are currently grad students or postdocs have experienced colleagues leaving academia for industry jobs. Even though I am currently a happy scholar, I can very well understand those who venture into industry – be it for making impact on a shorter time-scale and in a more direct manner, for more job security and more regular working hours, or simply for higher pay and the possibility to plan a family and get some savings. And indeed, the fluidity between academia and industry has arguably never been that strong. I find it very important for us young cognitive scientists to know that academia is not a one-way street, and the world outside there is welcoming us warmly, should we choose to enter it.
Christina, Page and I like meta-analyses. We are convinced they are a great tool to leverage past research in order to move forward: To gain an overview of the state of a field, to get an idea of research practices, to plan new experiments, and even to get novel theoretical insights.
About 2 months ago, the latest round of successfully funded Marie Skłodowska Curie fellows has been announced, and some might soon start to plan their move abroad. My move one year ago was spiked with some unforeseen obstacles. But even without those presumably rather unique incidents, there are quite a few things I wish I’d known before. With that in mind, I’ve put together some helpful information on the administrative side of planning your stay. Since I am on a Global Fellowship to the USA, this post is especially geared towards those in the same situation. I hope that large parts can also be useful for fellows going to other countries and postdocs receiving a different kind of funding, though. So here you go!
Two weeks ago, I came back to the US after my holiday trip to Germany and France. This moment when you stand in front of the frosty immigration officer who makes you press all your fingers onto the dirty glass of the fingerprinting scanner, takes a webcam photo of your travel-exhausted face, and then scrutinizes your papers. This moment alone always makes me feel like an illegitimate intruder. But of course, it always goes well for me. This last time the immigration officer, still with her poker face on, noticed that my visa would run out in 3 months. Yes, I said hurriedly, I need to reapply. Ever wondered why they make you do this, the officer asked. I looked at her, slightly alarmed. To make a shitload of money out of you, she said, looked up, and smiled a friendly smile. I also smiled, relieved. We both laughed, and that is how I re-entered the United States of America.
Our department has recently started a series on academic skills, where grad students and postdocs at Penn can ask panelists about various experiences pertaining to writing a grant, or giving a job talk – things that are often not communicated in a formal way. This month’s session was about “What I would have liked to know before starting grad school”, where advanced grad students and fresh postdocs reflected on things they would have found useful to know or to have reflected on in advance. I thought I’d share some of the excellent points that were made by the panel and audience.
Grad school can be a great thing, but it comes with its own challenges. For me, the flexibility that often comes with being a grad student (unless you work on a project with a very fixed outline where your tasks are clearly defined from the start) is something that makes it especially awesome, but also especially challenging. You can work on what you really care about while managing your work schedule yourself. But you also have a lot of responsibility and need to be intrinsically motivated and reasonably disciplined to pull through. With that in mind, here come five thoughts and pieces of advice that can help you make your way through grad school.
Meet Anne Scheel, PhD candidate at LMU Munich. She stood up and asked the author of the opinion piece on “methodological terrorism” for a statement after her keynote at the DGPS conference. Since tough questions in front of big audiences by young women are still a rare thing to encounter at conferences (and elsewhere), we were curious to know how this went down for her. And of course, we also took the opportunity to discuss the content of the piece in question. Continue reading An interview with a next generation methodological freedom fighter
I started thinking about writing this blog entry when I first read about the speakyourstory initiative in this insightful Nature column a few months ago. This initiative raises awareness of microagression in the form of subtle sexism in the world of research. Subtle sexism is often less obvious both to its initiators and recipients than overt sexism, but can nevertheless be quite harmful – or I should say could be harmful, since we know amazingly little about its real effects. Microagressive comments are, of course, not restricted to sexism, but to an abundance of topics people can be – often unintentionally – biased about (read more here or here).
Our kickstarter project #barbarplots reached its funding goal and will thus become reality! In the 30-day campaign, 173 backers pledged a total of 3,479 Euro to send #barbarplots t-shirts to editors of major scientific journals. We are very excited and want to thank you for the tremendous support – not only by pledging, but also by spreading the word via email, Facebook, Twitter, and by wearing and carrying tote bags and t-shirts with the following meme around the world. Continue reading Bar Bar Hooray!! #barbarplots reached its funding goal
This post not only generated a lot of online reactions (>200 retweets already – for our standards that’s close to breaking the internet!), but also a lot of discussion among colleagues in the lab. And indeed, while plotting might seem like something you just to in addition to the actual analysis, doing it the right way is arguably as important as analyzing the right way since, after all, the figures are the things most of us look at when we try to understand the results of an article.
We PhD students and postdocs frequently move around the world, often in 2- to 3-year intervals. That is wonderful, people say, and I would not disagree. But we also have to face personal, psychological, administrative, financial, or professional obstacles each time we fly into a new life.
I’ve moved to three new countries so far. And I am currently in the process of moving to the fourth, namely from my first postdoc in Paris to my second in Philadelphia. So I’m taking the opportunity to share my experiences, starting with a story that Kafka would probably be proud of. It’s the story of how the post’s loss of my visa and passport resulted in me still eating baguette instead of burgers (and it’s developing into a personal, psychological, administrative, financial, AND professional obstacle, despite the fact that being forced to continue drinking wine in sunny Paris is not the worst fate in the world).