postdocs and respect

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at
Mon Aug 18 14:57:24 EST 1997

In article <5ta3o5$lpj at>,
Catherine Sarisky  <sarisky at> wrote:
>Actually, what you describe doesn't sound so different from what grad students
>at Caltech get.  We get free use of the gym, free (and pretty darn good) health
>insurance, and other benefits.  I wonder, aside from having 'faculty' on the
>card, how different things are between postdocs and grad students?

In my own experience, being a postdoc is better than being a graduate student
in the following ways:

1.  Twice as much money (in grad school, I had an NSF fellowship, which,
when I was awarded it, paid $12000 per year.  My first postdoc year the
Caltech minimum was $24000).

2.  No required coursework, studying for prelims, writing a thesis, etc. etc.

3.  Knowing more and not feeling like I had to "prove myself" as much
(more a psychological benefit, and not institution-based).

Perhaps your posting points out that Caltech is just a pretty nice place to
work, whether you're a student or a postdoc.  Being a PI on the other hand,
looks to me to be pretty difficult and stressful (although for this I would
"blame" larger forces such as the funding situation, not Caltech the
institution).  I'm not sure I really envy them, which could be why I'm
in no hurry to leave my postdoc.


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