I found myself really quite dejected today at the state of the postdoctoral jobs market. And with that, I find my concern mounting that I’m in danger of becoming one of those bitter people. If I’m honest, it’s probably just that I’m feeling rather exhausted at the moment. It’s ok to allow myself to gripe from time to time, provided I don’t make a habit of it, right?
Really though, the situation is pretty dire. I’m hearing more and more stories of people struggling to get jobs once completing their PhDs, and still more who’re concerned about where they’ll find their next postdoc job. It’s easy to ignore these things when they’re just stories, but with alarming frequency I’m finding the stories told by people I know. It’s a frightening fact that I’m grudgingly coming to admit.
Personally, I’m still locked into a threefold nightmare of looking for a postdoctoral job, getting income while I finish off my thesis, and actually writing said thesis. Checking for postdoc positions frequently makes me realise that they’re not exactly abundant. In fact as I write this, the AAS jobs register (generally considered to be a definitive list of current opportunities) lists 20 astronomy postdoctoral positions & fellowships. Of which there are 6 which I’d be qualified for. Granted, some of those postings are calls for more than one researcher, but… Seriously. Six. Six listed jobs in the whole world.
Please someone correct me if I’m wrong on this, but if that’s really all there is then that’s just shockingly bad. I don’t really want to leave astronomy but from what I’ve heard, the world of chemistry isn’t that great either, postdoc-wise. Sadly, I need to be pragmatic and face the fact that I’m going to have difficulty finding a postdoc job. People all around me are being forced to face the same thing. Some leave for teaching jobs. Some face repeated rejections as they compete with other more experienced applicants. It’s a bit upsetting, frankly, that I no longer have any choice but to contemplate these things. So I have to watch the jobs register like a hawk, knowing full well that even as I swoop on the next thing that comes along, hundreds of other people are probably doing much the same thing I am.
And all the while, the only thing I can think is – I have research I want to do…