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For someone who is doing his PhD in a US institute (STEM filed), how likely is it to be employed (as a post-doc for example) in another country (which is not my home country, in general) ?

For example, for a PhD student, it should be much more easier get a job in an environment that you know; for example, the school that your are doing own PhD, or some other instituted that you are familiar (possibly in US also), but, in general, is it common for such a student to get employed by an institute in Europe or elsewhere?

  • "it should be much more easier get a job in an environment that you know; for example, the school that your are doing own Phd" - Not necessarily. – Bryan Krause Feb 8 at 17:54
  • @BryanKrause I made that claim according to the observation that I made in my institute. Of course, it might not be true in general; that is why I used "should" – onurcanbektas Feb 8 at 17:56
  • I don't know how 'common' it is (hard to define statistically), but I know of a number of people, including myself, who have PhDs from the US but did post-docs in Europe. (As an aside, I would not in general suggest doing a post-doc in the same place you did your PhD.) – Jon Custer Feb 8 at 18:00
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    I suspect this is highly field and or group dependent. During my PhD I interacted with and collaborated with groups across Europe, and met many more at conferences. My post-doc "interview" consisted of the institute director asking me when I'd like to show up. This was back in the late 1980's. Most conferences were pretty international then, and are even more so now. – Jon Custer Feb 8 at 18:12
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    Depending on your citizenship, the country in which you want to work, and the funding source that would pay for your postdoc you might run into visa/immigration issues that would make it difficult . – Brian Borchers Feb 8 at 18:56
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I wouldn't think there would be discrimination either in favor of or against a PhD from any particular place. That isn't how people make decisions about who to hire. Instead, they will look at what you have done and whether they find it "interesting" and "deep". You can produce such work anywhere and it will be valued everywhere.

In any application, whether for a degree or for employment (a) there will likely be a lot of competition and (b) you need to make your case. These things aren't decided by plugging things into spreadsheets, but by people looking at your output and your perceived potential to contribute.

That said, you may need to make sure that you speak the local language and are comfortable in the local culture. If a job involves teaching, for example, not speaking the lingo may be disqualifying - at least in some minds. But even in a non-teaching position, you will be expected to interact with others in the institution. Don't take a math postdoc in, say, Italy just because you want to begin to learn Italian.

I recognize that I answered a slightly different question: How difficult is it... I hope that serves your needs.

  • "Don't take a math postdoc in, say, Italy just because you want to begin to learn Italian." good advice :). Thanks for the answer. – onurcanbektas Feb 8 at 18:14
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    Hmmm. Doing it for the food, on the other hand.... Have to think about that one. – Buffy Feb 8 at 18:16
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    I did my post-doc in the Netherlands 25+ years ago. All the science part was done in English. But, I did learn Dutch for the social side, which was quite a nice thing to do. I would not discount the side benefit of learning another language while doing a post-doc. – Jon Custer Feb 8 at 18:19
  • @JonCuster Well, I'm already learning my 3rd language French - thought I'm still undergrad -, so I definitely agree with you on that, but for a research position, would language be a barrier to the employment ? – onurcanbektas Feb 8 at 18:43
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    @onurcanbektas - well, I learned the Dutch in the Netherlands, so no. I previously had learned Latin and French pretty well. If you have learned one 'other' language, you likely will not have issues learning yet-another-one, particularly if you are hearing and using it daily. Best case would be to find a nice person of the appropriate persuasion and get private lessons... – Jon Custer Feb 8 at 18:58
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I don't know about common but certainly not uncommon--had several friends that did.

It will help a bit if there is some small connection (e.g. your current advisor and new one, a collaborator even once removed, previous members of lab group, etc.). After all any time you hire someone this can be helpful. But maybe even a little more when you are bringing someone in from overseas.

Of course, many people still come/go based on blind opportunities (replying to posted positions) so go ahead and apply for them.

In addition, I urge to pro-actively reach out to some people in the field that you would like to work with. When doing so, find some potential points of commonality other than just "I want a gig--got one?". Something along of the lines of


"Professor Francais, I wanted to reach out and introduce myself.

I noticed that you are one of the few French researchers in density functional theory for industrial materials. I am very interested in moving into this topic. (Have worked previously in an analagous but different area: Hartree Fock calculations of pharmaceutical materials.)

In addition, I would find it a pleasure to experience France at your institute on the banks of the Seine.

Do you have any current positions open or do you foresee any coming open? Could we have a conversation about your research?

Sincerely, O. Bektas


You will need to figure out the visa situation when things get serious but I don't think Turkish citizen (guessing based on your profile) will be hard for a temp science position in EU.

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