I hope I do not post a repetitive question here. Generally, I have questions about finding a math postdoc position and the expectation/duty of general math postdoc position. But I suppose my situation is not usual.

I just recently passed my dissertation defense and I am about to deposit my dissertation to the university, completing my last degree requirements.

Throughout my phd study, I almost always find myself slow on learning math concepts, and everyone in the department seems to be better than me. My advisor is also very helpful, encourage and patience. It is almost a miracle that he can guide me through the end of my phd. My dissertation is ok. It is far from world-changing. I think it is at the level of meet the standard (like really meet standard, like if 50 is a pass, it might be about 51-55). My CV is not great (covid thing make it hard to attend seminars, give talks). So in short, my thesis topic is mediocre at best, and my cv is … poor.

I do think that I am so weak at research skill so I think postdoc might do me some good. However, it seems like postdoc in math is very competitive nowadays, and usually require good cv, many published paper etc.

Perhaps the question is… does anyone know or even has experience yourself the same situation as me? Is it possible for a mediocre math phd to get a postdoc position ? Is postdoc a way for one who think he/she yet ready to do research completely on their own, but seeks some professional to guide him/her ? Is it possible for postdoc advisor to work more closely with the postdoc than normal (if he or she seems yet proficient enough) ?

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    Can you focus your post to a single concrete question? Do you know what postdocs in Math are? And in what country?
    – Kimball
    Aug 6 at 5:41
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    How important for you is obtaining academic positions (postdoc, tenure-track, etc.) that have a significant research component? What you've written suggests that you might not be very interested in research while also suggesting that you think these are the only academic paths open to you. A very large majority of the colleagues I've had at small U.S. colleges went directly to a teaching position without any postdocs. Maybe include in your question(s) some context about why you are only focusing on postdocs. For example, the situation in your country might be such additional context. Aug 6 at 13:08
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    Vote to close. Whether you are likely to get a postdoc depends a lot on your subfield, the funding and competition within that subfield, and who your advisor knows. Aug 6 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


You may be being too hard on yourself. Explore Imposter Syndrome, which is pretty common among new PhDs.

The state of the economy for math academics is such that you may not have an option about seeking a postdoc if you want to continue in academia unless you want a teaching position at, say, a liberal arts college. This can vary by place, of course, and definitely varies with time.

But a postdoc isn't an end in itself. It is but a stepping stone that many need to use to establish a (research) career.

You won't know if you can get a postdoc until you try. If you try don't project deficiency, but proficiency and get what support you can from your advisor and other faculty. If your advisor is supportive you have a good chance to succeed.

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