Job Hunting Season Opens for 2010/2011

by Jessica Lu on August 16, 2010

It is that time of year again. Hundreds of astronomy graduate students and postdocs are entering the mysterious and stressful world of job hunting. Listings for postdocs are starting to hit the Job Register now while the faculty position listings will start to heat up later in the Fall. To help take the edge off, we’ve started a Job Hunting Wiki page with useful links and resources including LaTeX CV templates, books about job hunting, and links back to posts that discussed aspects of the job hunt. We’ve also set up an Amazon store with the most relevant books.

Please share with us your favorite job hunting resources, advice as an experienced job hunter. Go ahead and update the wiki, or comment either here or on the wiki.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve August 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Just a couple of tips:
1) Make sure to visit each site where you might potentially work, making sure to speak (or, better, have lunch with) personally with any principal collaborators, as well as their grad students, if any. You’re going to be working with/for this person/these people for a couple of years, and you want to minimize any personality conflicts! Similarly, make sure to see your office space — dungeons spell doom!

2) Make sure that if your postdoc project is PI-driven, it is something that will advance *your* career, and/or that has opportunities for *you* to secure future grant funding. Working for a PI, coding up some data analysis scripts and being third author of twelve isn’t the ticket — you might as well get out and do that for $100k/yr and have weekends free.

Jess, thanks for the post, and good luck to all ye intrepid job hunters!

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2 Bruce Berriman August 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Having gone through a tortuous path to stay in astronomy, I have tried to write a short biography and give some advice on jobs and careers in my blog at

http://astrocompute.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/how-i-survived-in-astronomy/

I hope my own experiences are helpful to job seekers.

In summary: you can have a fulfilling career in astronomy outside the traditional faculty path. There are many ways to make a difference in astronomy outside pure research positions. Re-invent yourself every few years – it prevents burn out, and helps you develop broader skills. Look for opportunities rather than waiting for them. Try things out – you may surprise yourself in discovering new interests and talents.

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3 Jessica August 23, 2010 at 11:40 am

@Bruce – Fantastic posting. During our academic training as graduate students and postdocs, I think it is far too easy to become insulated to the vast range of types of people it takes to keep astronomy and space science research going. Thanks for giving us a great illustration of just one of the possibilities.

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4 Bruce Berrman August 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Thanks for your kind comment, Jessica. I was asked by a few people last week if it was hard to get back into research after an absence. Well, yes, it was! This week’s post on my blog explains how i did it:
http://astrocompute.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/was-it-hard-to-return-to-astronomy-and-research/
Again, I hope my experiences are useful to people in the job market.

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