Now that you are a postdoc at one of the most prestigious laboratories worldwide, what’s next? Here are some suggestions (not in any particular order) for advancing your career while working at the Lab.
- Enrich your skills by attending career development workshops offered both onsite and offsite (UC Berkeley, for example) to prepare for a successful career in academia and beyond. For those interested in exploring non-academic career paths, The Versatile PhD may provide a helpful start.
- Continuously update and polish your CV or Resumé. Tailor them for specific job openings. Keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date is quite important as well.
- Have your business card ready to facilitate efficient communication and networking. The lab offers a business card printing service. You need to provide a project/task account to acquire business card. Talk to your PI for these information. At times, a few special events do offer business card free of charge for postdocs who attend those.
- Network!! It is often a good idea to get to know fellow postdocs, technical and staff scientists, as well as administrative staff across divisions. Begin creating relationships with individuals at other institutions or companies by joining BLPA social events, divisional networking events, career fairs at UCB campus or local/online communities.
- If interested, work on acquiring Legal Permanent Residence (Green Card, self sponsorship or employer based) or an O1-visa (employer-based, only if you plan to pursue a career in the US and are not a US citizen. The process is time consuming and it may take some time to get one, so plan accordingly.
- Be open about career options. Chances are you might have more job opportunities at small and specialized companies (under 1000 employees) that explicitly need your PhD skills.
- Conduct informational interviews with individuals at places you might be interested in working at – it allows you to get a sense of the company culture. Read For your Information by Peter Fiske to get started.
- Work on understanding your personal values and interests to figure out which career path might be the best for you. For example, ask yourself about the kind of work-life balance you want. Do you mind long working hours if the work is exciting? Other important questions worth considering: How much money do you want to make? Where do you want to live? Do you want to go back to the country you came from?
Berkeley Lab offers postdocs several career development opportunities including workshops, one-on-one career consultations, seminars, and membership to online resources: Versatile PhD, National Postdoc Association, and Skillsoft. In addition, each postdoc may have a $500 career development fund that can be used to attend a workshop outside the Lab. Note that the availability of the funding is not guaranteed. Please contact the Lab’s postdoc manager Meg Rodriguez to inquire about the availability of the fund and the types of workshops it can be used for.
Keep an eye out for special events organized by specific divisions or areas for postdocs and early career scientists.
You can also attend career events on UCB campus – some organizations to check out such as Beyond Academia, PhD Consulting Club, BPEP, SkyDeck, QB3, CITRIS.
If your spouse moved to the Bay Area with you, they can meet other people at the INSPIRE associations local meetups to enhance their career as well.