Life after leaving research training is an open road for postdoctoral fellows full of potential career opportunities. Some involve innovative research in academia and industry, and others include exciting new responsibilities in non-research positions. At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, our postdocs go on to become teaching-focused faculty, consultants, principal investigators, journal editors, and in some cases, all of the above.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of National Postdoc Appreciation Week — and to guide current and future postdocs who might have a big question mark when it comes to their career paths — we connected with four former postdoctoral fellows who utilize the unique experience they gained at CHOP in a variety of different roles. Scroll down for some words of wisdom and inspiration from our postdoctoral alumni!
Name: Shanti F. Frausto, PhD, MBA
Current Title:Senior Medical Science Liaison, Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals
“If I could offer some words of wisdom to any current or future CHOP postdoc, I would simply say: Learn how to be flexible as you build or find your career path. Although we all have a certain career plan/path in mind, our end result may not be our initial destination.
In being flexible, learn to find new opportunities, whether they be in the laboratory or outside, that will add to your repertoire of skills. Find a mentor or former colleague who has been successful in their journey, and ask them how they got there. As I am sure you will find, everyone will have stories that took them on varied paths. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice or help in finding what may be the best path for you. After all, the more you know, the better you will be to launch yourself toward your dream career.”
Name: Laura Grafe, PhD
Current Title: Assistant Professor of Psychology, Bryn Mawr College
“Consider what kind of job you want, and make important decisions to prepare for that track. If you want to teach, get some teaching experience; if you only want to do research, focus on getting more papers out or applying to grants you can take with you. Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs earlier than you think you are ready — the worst that can happen is you try again next round; and the best that can happen is you get the job!”
Name: Atif Towheed, PhD
Current Title: Medical Student, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and Visiting Scholar, Columbia University
“Follow your dreams. Go where your passion takes you. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Work hard and be persistent. Be kind to others and give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Name: Daniel Hui, PhD
Current Title: Senior Product Characterization Scientist, Tmunity Therapeutics
“My best piece of advice would be to carefully consider whether an academic or industry career path is the right path for you, and then go for it. Having spent a number of years on both paths, there will be ups and downs no matter which direction you choose. Just remember to always look out for yourself first, because everyone else will have a separate agenda that may not align with yours. Don’t ignore the personal side of your career; work-life balance and happiness are key. And don’t be afraid to change your environment if you aren’t happy. If you put in the effort now, the skills and background you are building as a CHOP postdoc should open many doors in the future!”