ACM News 16/12/2013
The computer science community must cultivate a clear understanding of the best practices related to pursuing, hosting, and nurturing postdocs, according to a new report from Anita Jones, University of Virginia, and Erwin Gianchandani, currently with the NSF. The postdocs themselves should know what to expect, take responsibility for their own career, and gently push for the exercise of best practices. Individuals seeking a postdoc should carefully consider the purpose of the postdoc, and ensure that the future postdoctoral position will enable them to gain experiences needed for career advancement, and contribute to the intellectual advancement of their adviser’s program. Postdocs also should proactively solicit and take the opportunity for open and frequent engagement with their advisers and/or mentors. Meanwhile, postdoctoral advisers should behoove themselves to make the transition to mentor so they are responsible for guiding, challenging, and supporting their postdocs. The key to this is fostering mutual respect and trust, and once advisers clarify their expectations for postdocs, both parties should collaborate on an individual development plan aligned with the postdoc’s professional goals. Advisers also need to lead early and frequent discussion of ethical standards, and assume responsibility for helping postdocs to rapidly advance to the next position. Host organizations have a duty to provide a supportive setting for the postdoc’s enrichment, and guarantee that each postdoc has both an adviser and a mentor.