Career-Development Timeline for PhD Students (Late Doctoral)

Stages: Early Predoctoral (Year 1-2) Training Late Doctoral (Year 3-5) Training Postdoctoral Training

Once you've finished your qualifying exam, immerse yourself in your research.

  • Listen to your advisor as well as fellow lab personnel - especially postdocs. They are a valuable resource. Take their tips to heart.
  • Read all that you can on your topic. Become an expert on the techniques you use.
  • As you design and conduct experiments, always think in terms of the figures you'd like to see in a manuscript. Ask yourself if the experiment, as planned, will provide sufficient information to design the next one. Although having the right controls may seem obvious, they are left out of an unbelievable proportion of experiments.
  • Continue to present your work in your department as well as at conferences, such as the ASH annual meeting. You will gain valuable experience, refine your presentation skills, and receive valuable feedback from others.
  • Present abstracts for local, regional, national, and international meetings. Presentations at meetings can be listed later when being considered for tenure track positions.
  • Involve yourself in additional projects in the lab. Seek collaborations if you are an expert in an area, but do not waste your time getting too involved in unrelated/unhelpful endeavors.
  • Consult with your advisor and publish in journals such as Blood as soon as possible to demonstrate that your work has been validated in a peer-reviewed process prior to your defense.
  • Update your CV at least one to two times per year. Visit the career center at your institution for guidance on format andcontent. Also maintain a biosketch to keep track of all of your talks, posters, and abstracts so that you can be prepared for tenure track applications (see NIH biosketch sample).
  • Carefully evaluate your career options. Academic, governmental, and industry jobs all have advantages and disadvantages, so it is critical to develop a group of mentors to help you evaluate your future. While these mentors are often on your thesis committee, remember to talk to as many people as possible and keep an open mind for alternative career paths. Once you have identified a potential career, find and contact someone who is already doing the job. Are they happy? What is their favorite aspect of the job? What do they dislike?
  • Seek funding. Funding sources should be sought even if your principal investigator is funding you so that you can build your resume and practice for the "real world" of grant writing and possibly, if funded, get more resources for your work. Apply for pre-doctoral support during your third or fourth  year (Grants Clearinghouse). Consider other professional or disease-focused societies for funding opportunities as well as ASH.

Stages: Early Predoctoral (Year 1-2) Training Late Doctoral (Year 3-5) Training Postdoctoral Training

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