In this Issue
Let’s talk postdoc
By Shaynna Herrera
How important/necessary is it to complete a fellowship?
First off, you don’t have to complete a fellowship. If you can find a job that meets your state licensing board’s criteria for licensure, you don’t need a fellowship. They’re really best for people who want specialized training or for people who like being called a “fellow.”
What is something important to look for at this stage of training compared to predoctoral training?
Probably the place where you want to be living for the next two to five years. You’ll make connections at your fellowship with professionals that will cement you in the community. So, if you are currently completing internship in Wyoming but have dreamed ever since you were a child that you would grow up to live and practice psychology in Rhode Island, I’d suggest searching for postdocs in Rhode Island as it will then be easier to find a job there.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew before you applied to a fellowship?
Well, the first fellowship to which I had been accepted told me in June of last year that they could no longer afford to fund the position. I searched around in a near-delirious panic and ended up finding an even better fellowship. So, I guess I would like to have known that things were going to be okay. The takeaway is something like, “Patience is a virtue.” But that’s easier said than done when you have student loans. And don’t select a fellowship that is in jeopardy of losing its funding before you work there. Get the agreement in writing.
Is there anything that surprised you about the application or interview process for fellowships?
Probably that I got one. After going through the postdoc application process once, receiving and accepting an offer for a postdoc, and then having the offer fall through at the last minute, I didn't think I would be able to find another postdoc after most of the positions had been filled. To have landed in a new postdoc which was such a good fit for my skills and interests ... I feel extremely fortunate. I suppose there is a lesson in there about believing in yourself or something, but that feels a little too after-school-special to me. For me, a more interesting takeaway is that while we can't always control what happens to us, we can control how we react to what happens to us. And had I just moped and languished in the anxiety I was feeling, I would not have had a better postdoc.