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Maybe the answer to this question varies depending on the field of study. I am asking it from an Engineering perspective. I am currently enrolled in a PhD program in Mechanical Engineering (carried out with an industrial partner) and would like to join a research department in the aeronautical/aerospace industry.

For PhD students in a similar situation, what would you consider to be the main advantages (and disadvantages) of doing a Post-Doc ? Should you target a better ranked university than where you did your PhD, same level or lower ? or should you rather join industry straight after finishing the PhD ?

Feel free to share your thoughts and experience. There's probably multiple answers to this question.

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    Advantages compared to what? It really depends on what you want to achieve in your career (industry, a professorship, something else) if a postdoc is a good idea or not. – Pieter Naaijkens Apr 10 '14 at 15:30
  • This question is too broad as it is. – user102 Apr 10 '14 at 15:32
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    Good grief: apply to all the postdoc positions you can find! In the current job market there is no need to do any "targeting" at all. – Pete L. Clark Apr 10 '14 at 15:48
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    Can you tell a little about your goals? Can you tell us what the other options you are considering are? Industry? A faculty job? This is hard to answer as is. – Benjamin Mako Hill Apr 10 '14 at 16:00
  • I am going to edit the question according to your suggestions. Thanks for the input ! – Nicolas Apr 10 '14 at 17:11
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I have a situation somewhat related to yours: I did a PhD in engineering with an industrial partner, and I'm now a post-doc researcher in a reputable university. It sounds, when you say 'doing a postdoc', that you have the impression that it is the logical 'next level' in the sequence: bachelors - masters - PhD - … but it is not.

There are no 'advantages' or 'disadvantages' in being a postdoc researcher for a while. It's just that, with some rare exceptions, you will not get a faculty position right after you graduate from your PhD.

The time spent as a postdoc is usually the time where you gain experience, hopefully make your peers aware of your existence, publish (or finish publishing) the chapters of your PhD thesis and maybe that study that you feel will make you stand out, etc. in other words: giving yourself the pedigree that will make you interesting for an academic hiring committee.

Since you have no intentions of becoming a professor, there are no real reason to 'do a postdoc', unless there aren't any other options (which I assume is not the case for you, as an engineer with experience in translational research/industry).

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You would like to join a research department in the aeronautical/aerospace industry. It seems to me joining industry straight after finishing the PhD is the most logical next step for you.

I can think of only two reasons you want to do postdoc, one is that you really want to stay in Academia and the other is you cannot find a good industry research job after you get PhD.

If you have some unfinished academic research after you have done PhD, doing postdoc may or may not let you finish it depending on what postdoc you can find. But, once you go that route, you may be further from industry. Good job opportunities are sometimes instantaneous. Grab it or lose it.

I am an industry retiree from the sector you are in. I know for fact that they need and they should have more PhDs like you to do more research.

If you want to do postdoc for whatever reasons and your ultimate goal is to join industry, I think the rank of the university you do postdoc does not matter much. The usefulness of the research topic does matter. Industry wants profitability.

Lastly, if you really want to stay in Academia, then don't go to industry after PhD. You could feel unhappy. In that case, postdoc with high rank university is what you want to do.

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