Grad Students Discuss Job Search

On May 19, 2014 by Grad Forum
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Jeanine Amacher and Katie Kinnaird

Graduate students, Jeanine Amacher (Department of Biochemistry, within the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program) and Katie Kinnaird (Department of Mathematics) have successfully obtained post-graduate academic positions upon completion of their PhD. Over lunch on Friday, May 2, they shared their experiences with other graduate students interested in pursuing academic careers.

Amacher always planned to find a career in academia. However, in order to become a professor, she first needed to find a post-doctoral position (completing a post-doc, either in academia or industry, is required in some fields prior to becoming a professor). Amacher took an aggressive approach to applying to post-doc positions. She wrote succinct cover letters that demonstrated her interest in the work of the particular lab that she was applying to. Amacher was also not afraid to send follow-up emails to professors to make sure that they knew she was interested in working with them.

Amacher received invitations for interviews at labs in San Francisco. While she was out West, she also set up an interview with Genentech, a biotechnology corporation. Ultimately, she accepted a post-doc position at the University of California, Berkeley, where she will work with Professor John Kuriyan, conducting research in protein X-ray crystallography to better understand protein signaling.

Kinnaird had considered entering industry, but she changed her mind after enrolling in the Active Learning Institute through the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) in her fourth year of graduate school. She took a special interest in the concept of the “flipped classroom”—where the expectations of students are changed to provide a more active learning experience. In her job search, Kinnaird applied to 119 jobs through MathJobs.org, a website which lists jobs solely for mathematicians. She also used a resource called Interfolio which allows the user to upload résumés, cover letters, CVs, and other documents, so that they can easily be sent to anyone who requests them. Kinnaird submitted applications for tenure-track, visiting professor, and post-doc positions. She received preliminary interviews for 15 jobs at joint math meetings, and then received a secondary, on-campus interview for a tenure-track position. She ultimately accepted an offer for a two-year position in the Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department at Macalester College in Minnesota.

Kinnaird said the many tools and resources listed above helped her application process become automated; this in turn gave her the ability and time to apply to many more positions.

Congratulations to both Amacher and Kinnaird! Best wishes in your new academic positions.

by Molly Croteau

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