Advice for joining a research group abroad [Wiki]

by Joanna Bridge on June 13, 2018

The standard career path in astronomy often requires a lot of moving around – moving to attend graduate school, moving for a postdoc position, and often moving again at every career transition beyond that. As a result, astronomical research groups tend to be very culturally diverse. Smoothing the way for these transitions is important, particularly if they include moving internationally, where entirely new cultures and norms may have to be learned. This challenge is something that should be kept in mind by both people making the move as well as supervisors who are doing the hiring and advising.

Nature recently published a career feature entitled “How to fit in when you join a lab abroad.” This piece notes that there are definite pros to hiring international researchers, but that there are also challenges of which to be aware. Adding new international members to a research group brings fresh perspective and helps the group approach research problems from new angles. It is important to understand, however, that communication and leadership styles may be very different. The article from Nature provides an important reminder to keep the lines of communication open when hiring internationally. While the article focuses on researchers from other countries, it has advice that is relevant to anyone joining or leading a group of people from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

We’ve added this article to the AstroBetter wiki in the Project and Team Management section. If you want to explore this topic further, there are also other useful resources for students, postdocs, and advisors at the end of the article.

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