Today, my fellow blogger and electrophysiologist (and soon-to-be mom!!) The Cellular Scale and I are swapping blog posts. I am over at her blog writing about science, and @TheCellularScale would like to hear your advice on the following:
Hi BabyAttachmode readers, thanks for letting me guest post here. Honestly, I am hoping for some advice. I am a (senior) graduate student in a computation/electrophysiology lab and am planning to graduate in December. Everything is lined up for this to happen provided I actually write a lot in the next few months. However, I am also 5 months pregnant (baby due in July).
This pregnancy was planned, and my advisor even thinks it is good timing. She had her first child when she was finishing her Ph.D. as well, and now she has tenure (It is possible, folks). I didn’t necessarily want to try to have a baby right after I started a new post-doc position, but I also didn’t want to wait forever. In addition, my impression is that the ‘clock’ starts ticking after you get your Ph.D. (for early investigator status grants and so forth), so I rather delay graduation now than delay productivity later.
But here is my question: When should I apply for post-doctoral positions?
Part of me would like to apply right away and have a settled position for January as soon as possible. Or alternatively if it is really difficult for me to find a position, I would like to find that out sooner rather than later. If I apply now, I could even work on submitting an F32 NRSA grant with someone, and possibly have my own funding. The thing I am hesitant about is that I am obviously pregnant, and if I get invited to interviews any time in the next 4 months, I will be HUGE. I am worried that I might not be a sharp and quick thinking as normal. But more importantly, I am worried about implicit bias against mothers and motherhood in academia. Will a potential advisor think that I’m not serious about science or that I won’t have time to devote to the lab? Should I hold off applying for positions for this reason?
There are benefits to applying later too. I have 3 papers currently submitted (1 as first author), and it would be nice to have those accepted before sending out my CV. But I worry about applying to post-doc positions at the last minute. A recently graduated friend of mine (who had some great publications) sent out about 100 applications/letters of interest and got interviews for only 4 or 5. This is more or less terrifying to me, even though he ultimately landed a great position. Also, I won’t be pregnant ‘later’, but I will have a tiny baby… which I’m sure will present its own problems: For example maybe I won’t be well rested for my interviews.
Any pros or cons that I am not considering? Any advice from successful or unsuccessful post-doc applications?