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I'm from Brazil and currently taking a Master's in Physiology here. I have a plan about doing my PhD in a good institution here in Brazil with a period of it in some American or Canadian institution, accordingly with my PI contacts. But I'm thinking, after this, in taking a gap year (or 2) working as a research technician in an area of interest before trying a post doc position in the same place. I know that gap years working with research is something that is more common with undergrad students. But during my period as an undergrad student, my experience with research was in an area that don't contributed a lot with my resume and the field I'm working right now. Like, it wasn't so "valuable" for the area that I chose for my master's and that I chose for life in academia. So I think A LOT in how one or 2 years more of experience would be nice for my professional development. You think this is a bad idea? I mean, how a PI would look that, cause probably they are expecting that someone already with a PhD wouldn't be someone looking for "more" experience before starting a post doc. I feel like I didn't knew how to plan correctly my curriculum along this years, feel that I took too many time to discover what I really wanted to do, and started down this path too late, with my master's. Feel like my three years as undergrad research assistant was a lost of time because it wasn't on the area that I am right now, and that this is a big "missing thing" in my curriculum.. Now I know what I want and already started to build a more compatible curriculum, but, still, I feel behind, compared to others...

What do you think?

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  • Why is this a question for you now and not for when you are close to finishing the doctorate?
    – Buffy
    Feb 23, 2023 at 18:41

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Some basic thoughts:

  • Agreeing with a comment, a PhD takes years even going in with a Masters. You don't need to start making a decision on post-PhD employment until perhaps a calendar year before you turn in your dissertation.

  • In the lab-based sciences, postdoc positions often have research technician type responsibilities but with some explicit acknowledgement that lab PI's are supposed to take an active role in mentoring and promoting their postodcos towards a permanent position. I don't really see how taking a PhD-requisite permanent staff role would be more helpful if you want a faculty position.

  • In less lab-based STEM fields (my personal area, computational math lands here), postdocs are one of the only job categories you can get that will pay okay money and give you job experience that can eventually convert to a permanent position. Research staff tend to effectively be underpaid IT professionals tasked with computer tasks that don't convert to research credit.

In summary: Doing 1-2 years of "professional resume building" after a PhD is what fixed-term postdocs offer. I haven't ever personally heard of any tactical advantages for pursuing a permanent faculty position by taking jobs with other titles in STEM. Not that postdocs are the only route to a permanent position, but other routes seem a lot more ad hoc.

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