The Sassy Scientist – The Web of Influence

The Sassy Scientist – The Web of Influence

Despite finishing his experiments and writing up his thesis during a pandemic, Markus wants to keep climbing the academic pyramid. Reflecting on some of his choices during his PhD, he now asks:

I didn’t spend anytime building my network during my PhD. Can I get a postdoc?

Dear Markus,

Of course! Academia represents the pursuit of scientific knowledge and the expansion of our collective understanding of The World as a species. Therefore, as science is broadly interested with measuring and predicting objective reality, it doesn’t really matter who you know. All that matters for a postdoc are your scientific breakthroughs during your PhD, your insights, and independent mind. For a successful postdoc application, you ought to be a self-driven individual, with a good base-level of technical skills and eagerness to learn more and grow.

All you need to do in order to get a postdoc position is to apply indiscriminately to all international openings, write tens of pages of novel and breakthrough science proposals, and frantically e-mail heads of institutions to support your application for fellowships. It really doesn’t matter who you know, or who your PhD supervisor knows.

All I am trying to say is that academia is a meritocracy, and things like institutional pedigree, supervisor prestige, conference networking, or endless publications do not really matter, as they don’t speak to your real potential as a scientist. All that matters is your passion for science. Good luck!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: With a PhD and absolutely no network, you have a better chance of opening a Moon base rather than securing a postdoc…
PSS: Are you really sure you want to do a postdoc?

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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