short postdocs - truth or dare

Sarah L. Pallas spallas at
Thu Aug 29 20:03:15 EST 1996

In article <199608281851.LAA32140 at> Megan,
megan at writes:
>lined up for after June).  She is wondering if it is wise to tell the PI
>with whom she is interviewing that it will likely be a relatively short
>postdoc (she guesses about a year) when she interviews, when she starts,
>when she is looking for the next one. Basically she doesnt want her new
>to be disappointed or upset if she leaves in a year, but also doesnt
want to
>hurt her chances of getting the position.  Any suggestions??

I have been on both sides of this issue.  I looked into short postdocs
and was totally truthful to the PI about it, and I got several offers. 
In the end, my husband and I decided to be apart for a year (with
frequent visits between Cornell and MIT) rather than waste time on a
short postdoc.  You can't really get much done in a year, and it could
revitalize a relationship to have some time apart (could also do the
opposite, you have to judge).

On the other side, if someone wanted me to hire them on as a postdoc and
then left unexpectedly after a year I would be very angry, especially if
I was supplying the salary for that person and spending my valuable time
training them.  I expect to see some benefit from my investment.  Funds
for postdoc salaries are hard to come by, especially for young
investigators like myself.  If I knew the person would only be there for
a year, and I thought they would be able to hit the ground running, I
might be able to tailor a short project to them.

Sarah Pallas, Ph.D.

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