After Your Postdoc Arrives

Establish open and regular communication.

It is often a good idea to set a regular meeting schedule to be sure the postdoc gets off to a good start and stays on track throughout the postdoc years. 

Top 10 Communication Skills

Outline university, departmental, and/or laboratory rules, policies, and benefits.

Different laboratories are overseen by different agencies and have different compliance regulations (see RDI compliance policies). some may require responsible conduct in research (RCR) training (learn more about the RCR certificate), and some may have their own rules and policies in place. Because postdocs can be hired into different types of job positions, these positions may carry different university benefits. See our human resources page.

Provide professional development opportunities

These should be applicable to your discipline and your postdoc’s career goals. Examples include opportunities to write and submit grants, give oral presentations, teach, mentor students, develop an effective CV/resume, and refine interviewing and networking skills. You may be able to provide these opportunities; you may also direct the postdoc to the Postdoctoral Professional Development Certificate.

Discuss career goals and help your postdoc obtain the experience necessary to attain those goals.

For those who have aspirations to pursue a career in teaching, you may be able to offer them some mentored teaching experiences; also, there are campus resources that may be useful (See Teaching Resources). For those postdocs who are more interested in a nonacademic career, you may be able to offer them advice and networking opportunities; there are also campus workshops and resources (including a career counselor for postdocs) that may prove helpful (Career Preparation and Events).

Discuss authorship criteria.

Authorship can be a sticky issue, in part because different mentors have different criteria for what types of contributions deserve authorship. An effective way to avoid future disagreements and misunderstandings is to discuss authorship criteria before the research begins.

Consider creating an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

Although the UA does not require postdocs to create and submit an IDP as some other universities do, we recognize that this can be an effective strategy for establishing mutually agreed-upon goals and communicating expectations clearly in writing. You can find resources for creating an IDP here. The National Postdoctoral Association suggests that a postdoctoral experience help the postdoc gain six core competencies. Find more support for creating an IDP at ImaginePhD.