Postdoc Employment

Seeking Employment as a Postdoctoral Scholar at UCI?

Postdoctoral scholars interested in exploring employment avenues through UCI can access the Academic Personnel website.

All postdoctoral scholar appointments are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between the University of California and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). Information regarding terms and conditions of employment for postdoctoral scholars may be found in the UC/UAW Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Appointment Process (forms, sample letters and other resources-primairly for UCI staff)

Salary Scale

Glacier– Online nonresident tax compliance system

Considering a Postdoctoral Position?

Graduate students should investigate the wide variety of career paths available for Ph.D. recipients.  Postdoctoral positions are best suited to those seeking advanced research training and/or pursuing a career in academia. The postdoctoral position should not be viewed by graduate students or principal investigators as the default step after the completion of doctoral training.  

Selecting and Succeeding in a Postdoc Position – The following excerpts from the National Academies* publications offer to-the-point advice for aspiring postdocs.

Preparing for a Postdoctoral Position – The factors that determine a “good” postdoctoral experience are as various as the personalities involved. But certain key steps deserve careful planning. 

Choosing a field – Foremost is the selection of the research area. A postdoctoral research project should be more than an extension of thesis research; it should lead to new skills and a broader outlook. The postdoc should understand in advance what portion of the work is likely to be transportable to his or her next position. 

Finding a postdoctoral position – Most postdocs in our focus groups** found their positions through personal contacts—advisers, friends, and contacts from professional meetings. Many simply approached potential advisers directly with their qualifications and objectives. Few postdocs are hired after a simple response to ads in journals and on web sites, but such sources provide valuable tips about which institutions are hiring in which fields. 

Choosing an adviser – Both experienced postdocs and advisers suggest a thorough investigation before signing on. Some postdocs place paramount importance on the prestige of the principal investigator; others emphasize mentoring ability. A researcher of renown has great power to help—or hinder—a career; a newer assistant professor may offer more attention, responsibilities, and a substantial role in building up a lab. In either case, it is desirable to

  1. Arrange a personal meeting; and
  2. Talk with current and former postdocs who have worked with that investigator or organization.

**Several hundred postdocs, faculty, advisers, administrators, and federal agency staff generously offered their opinions, critiques, and personal experiences at 39 focus groups held around the country.

Questions to Ask in Choosing an Adviser  

The best time for a postdoc to evaluate a potential postdoctoral position is before signing on. It is difficult to adjust the major conditions of an appointment once it is underway. Experienced postdocs and advisers suggest the following questions be asked of (and about) a prospective adviser:

  1.   What are the adviser’s expectations of the postdoc? 
  2.   Will the adviser or the postdoc determine the research program? 
  3.   How many trainees has this adviser had? Where did they go afterward? 
  4.   What do current and past research group members think about their experience?
  5.   Will the adviser have time for mentoring? How many individuals is he/she mentoring? How much will the adviser be traveling? Should I seek out other mentors?
  6.   How many others (grad students, staff, postdocs) now work for this adviser? 
  7.   How many papers are being published? Where? 
  8.   What is the adviser’s policy on travel to meetings? Authorship? Ownership of ideas? 
  9.   Will I have practice in grant writing? Teaching/mentoring? Oral presentations? Review of manuscripts? 
  10. Can I expect to take part of the project away after the postdoc? 
  11. How long is financial support guaranteed? On what does renewal depend? 
  12. Can I count on help in finding a position? 
  13. Will the adviser have adequate research funds to support the proposed research? 

Additional Resources:

*Reprinted with the permission of the National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. from Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers: A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies, 2000, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), The National Academy of Sciences. Minimal edits have been made to tailor to address UCI applicants.

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