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Tenure track position at small University or Postdoc at a top one

  1. Jul 21, 2014 #1
    Hi guys!,

    I am in a kind of dilemma and wanted to know your opinion.

    I am from a very small european country and came to US for a PhD in a respectable university (top 50 in all world rankings).

    I just finished my PhD in mathematical modeling of turbulent flows and applied for different positions here and in my country.

    My applications were very successful and, among other offers, I got a 2 years postdoc position at a top university in US and a tenure-track position in my country (In a city that I really like!)

    I am a little unsure about what is the best option between them:

    1) I really want to go to the top university for the postdoc, but I will work there in one of the projects of my advisor and I will basically do what he asks me to do and not what I want to do. Additionally after the two years I would probably have to move.

    2) In the tenure-track position I would have a lot of freedom for researching whatever I want. Additionally, I was told that 99% of the assistant professors are promoted to associated professors (tenured) after 3 years.

    As I already mentioned, I would really like to go to the top university, probably because of non-rational reasons. My brain, in the other hand, is telling me that it is a much better option to ensure a position in a city that I like, where I will have a lot of freedom to develop my own ideas.

    What would you do in my situation?

    Thanks a lot for any comment.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2014 #2


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    I suspect what you want to hear is somene telling you that it's okay to give up a post-doctoral position at a prestigious school for a tenure-track position at another less-prestigious school.

    It is.
  4. Jul 22, 2014 #3
    Hahaha.. I suppose I just want to confirm I am not crazy xD.
  5. Jul 22, 2014 #4


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    Another way to look at it might be to move forward a couple of years...

    Post-doc you will have a roughly 1/10 chance of landing a tenure-track academic position plus the experience and satisfaction gained from working on that particular project.

    Tenure-track you will already have a tenure-track position plus the experience and satisfaction gained from definign your own projects.
  6. Jul 22, 2014 #5


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    The main goal of doing a postdoc is to put you in a position to get one of those rare tenure-track position. Sounds to me like you've already won the prize! Congratulations!
  7. Jul 22, 2014 #6


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    Well, now that's a whole different question!
  8. Jul 23, 2014 #7


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    This option of course! You can always collaborate with people in the top Universities. If your CV is good enough to get a tenure track position and you feel that you will be able to get grants, why wouldn't you take this opportunity?
  9. Jul 24, 2014 #8
    Your choice is simply this, isn't it?

    (1) Bet on career advancement via putting a "prestigious university name" on your resume and hoping that someone thinks that is important.

    (2) Bet on career advancement by pursuing your own direction and individual efforts.

    After many years of employment, sometimes I think how my life would have been more enjoyable if I had chosen the path of happiness versus the path of ego-gratification or reputation-building. One thing I am sure of: when you are employed doing what you enjoy, then it ceases to be called "work".
  10. Aug 1, 2014 #9
    Depends on the politics of each situation. A prestigious postodoc with tricky politics to maneuver won't advance your career.

    Despite my lack of experience in professoring, I think it's a better opportunity than postdocking.
  11. Aug 3, 2014 #10

    Meir Achuz

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    Take the tenure track position now. It may not be open later.
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