10.4 Career Development for Geosciences Postdoctoral Researchers

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 4:45 PM
308 (Washington State Convention Center )
Rebecca Haacker, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and C. Brinkworth, V. Sloan, and P. Fisher

Not all of the postdocs are planning a career in academia; in fact, in 2013, 18.6% of postdocs reported ending up working in private industry (Patton, 2014), and overall, fewer than a third of science postdocs continue into a tenure track position (National Science Board, 2008). Successful training for postdocs should therefore include preparation for a range of future careers, including those in academia, government laboratories, the private weather and climate enterprise, and other opportunities outside the field. Best practices for postdoc training recognize that early-career scientists need to acquire skills that prepare them for future careers that go beyond the skills that they are typically taught while conducting research. The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) lists these skills in their “Core Competencies” recommended for postdoctoral training, in addition to many more, including written and verbal communication, public speaking, leadership, teamwork, teaching, mentoring, grant-writing, negotiation, difficult conversations, and interaction with the media (NPA, 2015). In 2016, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in collaboration with the SOARS Program and UCAR, hosted a career development workshop for NSF funded postdoctoral geoscience researchers from across the country. In addition to providing training on proposal writing and publishing, the workshop was designed to increase participants’ understanding of the non-research skills that are vital to a successful career in the sciences, in academia, research and industry. Participants were offered tools for career planning, interviewing, and negotiation skills when discussing hiring packages. Panels of experts, working sessions, and lectures gave postdocs ample opportunity to get advice and build connections for future support and collaboration. Seventy-five postdocs attended and over 50 scientists, educators, and managers served as panelists, speakers, and session leaders. This paper will report on the structure and content of the workshop, as well as its impact as measured by pre- and post surveys.
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