Career development guidelines

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Use your yearly interview to your own advantage
Don't view the yearly interview as a threat but as an opportunity. It gives you a chance to reflect on where you stand and what you should do to make a next step in your career. Solicit explicit support from your supervisor, when particular actions are needed. If you think you don't get enough support from your supervisor, consider arranging for another staff member to join your yearly interview.
Get a mentor
Many senior staff members are happy to give you career advice. A fresh pair of eyes can be very helpful, e.g. to help you set your academic priorities. It is often a good idea to ask someone who is not directly involved in your daily work. You can ask someone yourself; alternatively, the VU has periodical mentor programs. Meeting frequency is typically 2-3 times per year.
Make sure you are visible
In the long term it pays off to do "community service", both within the department (e.g., sitting in a committee, maintaining a website) and outside (e.g., involvement in workshop/conference organisation). If you do't get such invitations, ask your supervisor or your mentor for help, e.g. by dropping your name in relevant circles. Networking is a skill you can learn.
Choose your niche
It is important to build up a research profile in the community in which you are active. Don't try to cover too many topics. Try to identify an area for which you think you have the skills to become excellent. Ask your supervisor and mentor for feedback on a proposed niche. And have your elevator pitch ready.
Work on your weaknesses
Alls of us have weaknesses; nothing wrong about that. Think of a strategy to work on them. For example, if you consider yourself a poor presenter, then each time you present ask in advance a trusted colleague to give you honest feedback afterwards.
Post docs should consider getting a teaching qualification
Teaching is a key academic skill. When you apply for a tenure-track position it is often helpful to have already a teaching qualification ("BKO" at the VU). As a post-doc it is usually a good idea to give one course per annum. You can then ask the department to fund a parallel BKO training (English-spoken BKO training exists). Prefer a master course over a bachelor course (the latter typically require more advanced teaching skills)
Think broader than academia
Many postdocs have chosen careers outside academia. Consider if this is an option for you. Remember: "outside academia" does not mean "second rate". You might consider doing an internship in a company to test the waters. If you're considering industrial jobs, make sure your networking activities are (also) aimed at that.

--Guus Schreiber 17:55, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

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