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I am submitting my Aerospace engineering PhD thesis in August. However, my colleagues have pointed out that I am very late with postdoc applications for this year. I should started searching much sooner.

Now, I am still being funded by my PhD supervisor, and she has said that I can stay in her lab after my PhD as a postdoctoral fellow until I find something else. I personally would like to do that because I have lot of publications pending and staying back will help me push those through. Also it would provide me time to learn a new modeling methodology which will significantly improve my profile and improve my chances of securing postdoc positions.

However, my colleagues are saying that doing postdoc from the same place is extremely bad for an academic profile. I do want stay in academia, and I am now regretting my delay in applying for postdoc positions.

How should I proceed? Is it true that my profile is going to be looked at negatively if I continue under my current supervisor for the next 6-8 months after my defense? At the moment, I don't have any financial debts or anything. But, I am really concerned how my future will pan out provided I have to stay here. This is really stressing me out.

  • This depends a lot on your individual financial situation. – Anonymous Physicist Jun 29 at 23:55
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    People in your situation sometimes remain Ph.D. students for an additional year. That may not be a possibility for you, but I think becoming a short-term postdoc in your current lab would be regarded, for the purpose of future applications, as essentially equivalent to remaining a student a bit longer. – Andreas Blass Jun 30 at 0:08
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my colleagues are saying that doing postdoc from the same place is extremely bad for an academic profile

Doing a postdoc only with your PhD advisor might look bad, because it looks like you couldn't get a postdoc somewhere else. But a brief extended stay at your PhD institution is more likely to be seen as a no-op—most people will understand that it was just a timing issue—especially if you later have a productive postdoc somewhere else.

In any case, you don't have a time machine, so worrying about what you should have done is completely pointless. Your job now is to make sure your eventual postdoc/faculty application package is as strong as possible. Do that research! Publish those papers! Give those talks! Build that network! Cultivate those letter-writers!

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    Yes. Better to have a brief post-doc at your PhD institution than to be (academically) unemployed for a year... which is quite possibly the obvious alternative, given the way the academic calendar works. – paul garrett Jun 29 at 22:59
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  1. Pay attention to Wayne Gretzky, "skate to where the puck is going to be", not where it is now. Yes, of course, you were late applying for things before. You should do that all of last year of Ph.D. school. Of course, you can't go back in time, but change the behavior NOW at least. (Your tone implies that you are considering not going after stuff even now.)

  2. Think about "option value". If you look, you may find something marvelous. If there's nothing good, you can stay where you are and keep looking. But not even looking? Please. Knowledge is power. Go do a search. Create options.

  3. Don't be scared to leave the nest, don't be scared to be an independent researcher. You can figure out that new modeling approach on your own. Or correspond, or whatever. Or find something else cool to do, all new. Really, by the end of your Ph.D., in addition to being super productive, you should feel like you could do this stuff on your own. Ideally, you'd move right to a PI position, but this is not the norm in the increasingly ossified overdeveloped academia infrastructure. But at least a postdoc in a new place. You will be a bit of a visiting scientist--is good for your development of independence.

  4. Hanging out for a few months, sucking up pay, and doing some more work (while you search your ass off) is fine. But no more dawdling. Search is first priority.

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Let's assume that it is the start of July and your funding ends at the end of August. That gives you about eight weeks to look for a postdoc. This is plenty of time, assuming you do not have too many other duties.

You only need to plan far ahead if you wish to apply for fellowships that are only available once a year. Many postdocs are advertised throughout the year.

A bigger concern is how you will pay for your relocation costs and the associated gap in employment.

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    In the U.S., in math, it is necessary to apply for post-docs in the previous December, at latest. Is it really true that there are some contexts in which summertime applications will be considered at all? I've not heard of any such thing... – paul garrett Jun 30 at 0:28
  • @paulgarrett Yes, I believe math postdocs are totally different from postdocs in other fields. Physics and Engineering do not have a postdoc season, and of course summer time varies in different continents. – Anonymous Physicist Jun 30 at 0:32
  • Ah. @Anonymous Physicist, thanks for clarifying. I had no idea! – paul garrett Jun 30 at 1:15
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    There are many countries besides USA, and in many postdoc positions are open when someone gets funding, not on a tight schedule. – Tommi Brander Jun 30 at 8:26
  • Huh. In computer science, there is a postdoc hiring season, which is roughly synchronized with faculty hiring, even though postdoc funding is not. – JeffE Jun 30 at 14:05

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