The Dreaded Next Step

I am coming into the final year of my PhD. The winding road has now started to take a more straight path. I am excited and terrified at the same time. What I am supposed to do next? There seems to be many options: post-doc in academia, industry or government, job in industry or government, or ??? I am overwhelmed by the number of options.

The post-doc in academia alone is daunting. Which lab to choose? I need to apply to fellowships around 8 months out to guarantee funding. I hear different recommendations. Apply before you get into a lab, wait until you are 3 months in, wait until a year in, etc.

Over the past few months, I have a clear idea of my first choice option. My passion has always focused on teaching/mentoring and research. I want to be a professor.  Ideally, I would complete a 3 year post-doc in an academic lab. My post-doc advisor would allow me to develop the skills to necessary to run a lab and if lucky also develop my teaching skills. Realistically, I will find a post-doc job in a research field that interests me. Every advisor has their positives and negatives. Creating a network on mentors to help in my training is necessary. Our advisor is a very important person, but having a support group of mentors and peer-mentors is critical. I think that PhD students overlook the importance of mentoring often.

This is only the first post about the next step. I am looking for others comments/ideas. I am hoping to develop a post with suggestions/tips for others. Everyone takes a different path, however, each path can provide knowledge to others.

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