Every postdoc at the University of Waterloo is an accomplished academic working at the forefront of their respective fields, and we encourage you to Share your postdoc experience with us. The Postdoc Experience Profiles project is a collection of stories from postdocs to create a profile discussing their experieces with certain of their time as a postdoc at the University of Waterloo. This is an opportunity to share about yourself, and the thoughts or advice that you have for your peers.
As a current postdoc, Alaaeldin is thinking about what is next, whether that be in industry or in academia, and is putting in the work to prepare himself for his next opportunity. Alaaeldin acknowledges that “transition from postdoc to industry is a challenging process” and that academic jobs are difficult to land, and this means it is going to take time and effort to be successful in the job market. "Deal with the PhD not as a challenging scientific endeavor, but as a step towards working in a specific field".
Ana acknowledges that every situation and postdoc is different, but there are so many postdocs across UWaterloo, that she says, “you will probably find someone who can put you in contact with someone else who went through the same thing you are dealing with”. Moving to a new country can be hard, but remember, “there’s no need to make it harder by doing it by yourself!”
“Illuminating fresh minds is what I enjoy doing. Explaining concepts from scratch and taking the effort to deliver complex ideas in a simple way is what I love..” Considering himself to be a lifelong learner, Anirban believes the world and all the people around us are teaching us things every day, so long as we keep an open and unbiased mind. The beauty of teaching, he explains, is that the more we share knowledge, the more we gain.
For future postdocs, Hector wants to empathize with the significance of prioritizing self-organization and self-management skills. He believes that balancing leisure and work are important for anyone's mental health. He recommends working diligently when necessary and taking breaks seriously to relax and enjoy.
For postdocs hoping to publish their work, Mohamed encourages them to simply start publishing. He says, “Once you start, you will have confidence to continue. Don’t lose hope even if you experienced hard times (like rejection sometimes), try to keep trying.” Doubts and hesitation will only delay the publishing process, so try to minimize these as much as possible.
As Shahabeddin talks about strategies to find postdoc opportunities, it’s clear he put a lot of time, effort and commitment into finding a position that will help him move forward with his career goals! Specifically, he recognized that competition for postdoctoral positions can be intense, so “investing time and effort into preparing strong and tailored applications is essential”.
Part of transitioning to her postdoc role has included developing independence. Sonia shares that moving from a grad student to postdoc role typically involves both greater independence and greater responsibility, while also learning new projects and working in new places. For Sonia, this meant she felt the pressure to complete tasks, learn about the new project, and write and submit research papers all during the first month of her postdoc! Sonia explains, “[I] gained more confidence eventually after completing one after another”. From this, Sonia says, “while it can be challenging at first, gradually, you take ownership of your research project”.
To build positive and productive relationships with his supervisors, colleagues, and peers, Wei emphasizes good communication skills, as well as opportunities to connect and talk. Wei strongly encourages other postdocs, “do not be afraid to build connections with others”, as he believes “many great discoveries come from good collaboration”. To build these connections, he suggests participating in more academic conference activities and putting in effort and communication to search for potential connections.