This is the first in a series of profiles about recent NIH postdocs who have found an array of jobs, from academia to industry to communications and beyond, in the U.S. and abroad. What do they do now, and how did they get there? What challenges did they face, and what advice do they have? Read on to find out.
Name: Nicholas Mitchell
Current position: Assistant professor at St. Bonaventure University
Location: St. Bonaventure, NY
Time in current position: 10 months
Postdoc: Adult neurogenesis as a potential therapy for cognitive deficits, with Henriette van Praag at NIA
Job search in a nutshell: I went to the NIH after completing a one-year visiting professorship. I decided to do a postdoc largely based on the realization that I needed to retool and complete my research training to be competitive for tenure-track faculty positions at undergraduate institutions.
I was really aggressive in my job search, going to sources within and beyond the NIH. I asked people in academia and industry about what key functions and tasks were required to be successful in the jobs I was interested in. I interviewed for faculty and administrative positions in academia. I also considered alternate careers that emphasized the business and managerial sides of science. Ultimately, I chose academia because I thought it encompassed most of what I was looking for.
Go back to the beginning: For people struggling with finding a job or choosing between options, go back as far as you need to to identify the people who excited you. That should give some indication of where you want to go. I honed in on becoming a professor by listing my five most influential role models. They were coaches, teachers and professors. Open yourself up to all the people you’ve encountered and the career possibilities available to you.