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I am in the process of contacting potential supervisors for a postdoc position, and I need a bit of advice on how to reply to one of them. I have a PhD in urban planning, and I am applying to some American Universities for a postdoctoral position.

After contacting a supervisor, I got a positive reply, however he wrote to me: "You have impressive credentials, and I'm sure you could contribute to our group. However, I have no additional funds at this point to support a postdoctoral position. I would be happy to talk if you have funding from another source. But at this point, my funding has been allocated to ongoing students. I am sorry that I do not have better news."

What and how should I reply? On one hand having some financial support is quite vital to me, but on the other hand I don't want to lose this opportunity. I would like to show how much enthusiasm I have to work in his group. I would like to suggest to write a proposal in order to give a grant, or asking him if he know somewhere I can find a financial scholarship. Or I ask him to let me know when he has a vacant position for me. I am unsure what to do!

  • 5
    Note that sometimes "I have no funding to support you" is used as a soft rejection reply. – Bitwise Apr 21 '17 at 9:42
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You have pretty much answered your own question.

In a reply, consider including the following:

  • thanking the professor for his reply.
  • state that you would be most interested in contributing to the group should a position open up - even mention a specific common aspect of the research.
  • ask if he knows of scholarships/ similar funding opportunities etc.
  • suggest co-writing a grant proposal/application (be specific about which grant and what it would be for).
  • perhaps even state that you would like to collaborate on projects/research in any case.

On that last point - leave the 'door open' for a continuing link through research etc. - this may put you in good stead for future opportunities.

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Thank him.

If he had some ideas for funding he probably would have mentioned them. That said, asking for some creative thought or asking to meet to have a creative session regarding funding ideas would not be improper and many opportunities start with conversations.

Certainly asking that you be kept in mind for if any funding or position arises is good.

Best of luck.

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I am unsure how Post-doc positions are usually designed where you live. Was this an unsolicited request for a post-doc? Post-doc positions in the U.S. are often advertised along with regular faculty announcements. They typically have funding dedicated to them at the time of the announcement. I am not sure if you would be able to find a scholarship for a post-doc position very easily as well.

You could offer to co-author a grant together that might support your position. However, when the potential supervisor indicated he would talk to you "if you have another funding sources," he might be referring to your current ability to fund your position and may not have an interest in co-authoring a new grant. Plus, while you write and wait for the grant announcement, you could have already secured another job in the U.S. at a different university.

While this particular research group/department is of great interest to you, I would suggest looking at job announcements for post-docs or faculty positions where you would not have to be concerned with securing your own funding at day one. Even if you went to another university, nothing would stop you from collaborating with this group (I collaborate with people from all over). Another suggestion would be to see if the university has a visiting scholars program. That might be another avenue, but still may experience funding as an issue.

Hope this helps! Good luck.

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