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Job searches at academic meetings - how does it work?

  1. Jan 1, 2010 #1


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    I'm heading off to the American Astronomical Society annual 'big' meeting next week, and although it will be my 5th AAS meeting, it's my first where I'm actively starting to look for jobs. I know they have a job center, but I'm not exactly clear on who is looking for applicants at these meetings, and how to prepare - so I'm currently bringing everything (CV, research statement, crappy teaching philosophy, cover letters...). I'm trying to get a academic postdoc for next year. Has anyone gone through this before, or have any advice?
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  3. Jan 2, 2010 #2


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    Well it sounds like you're going there prepared, which is the first key. I would keep a copy of your CV on you at all times as you never really know who you're going to run into.

    At meetings that I've attended people are allowed to post their CVs at the job centre, while employers post any positions they have available. For the most part this isn't too much different from an online job board. Some conferences will also set it up so that the centre will have someplace private to go for interviews.

    Conferences are always an opportunity to practice the fine are of networking. Although it can be difficult, you're best to spend your time talking with people you don't know.

    Approach speakers after talks that you've enjoyed, even if it's just to tell them that that you enjoyed the material they spoke about and ask if they know of anyone who's looking to hire a post-doc in the coming months.

    Don't be afraid to introduce yourself. You don't have to tell people you're looking for a job right away. Just start a conversation with questions like: what research is going on at your university right now? As a general rule, people like to talk about themselves.

    At dinners and social functions, sit with people you've never met and find out what's going on in their centres. Talk with other graduate students too - they may not have jobs to offer, but they usually have a pretty good idea of what's going in on their department.

    And even though it should go without saying, if you're looking for a job it's a good idea to dress the part. Every day at the conference you should try to dress as you would for a job interview, because you never know who's going to stop by your poster.
  4. Jan 2, 2010 #3
    I wouldn't dress like you would for a job interview. Dress like the people at the conference. If you are in tie and jacket and and all the post-docs are in jeans and t-shirts you are going to look silly. The professor *might* be in a suit, but that doesn't mean you need to be -- in fact it might be best to look at his suit as the "general's uniform." Don't imitate the general! I remember going in a tie and jacket to a conference dinner at fancy French venue, thinking that, if anywhere, young computing academics would be wearing a tie there. No one was. I discretely lost the tie, but the jacket still felt way too smart... (Different strokes, of course, I kind of imagine young medical doctors wearing suits... but who knows?)
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