As in a previous post this is a part of a series on the book A PhD is Not Enough- A guide to scientific survival. This is the second post.

In chapter three, he focuses on two important early career choices: thesis adviser and post-doctoral position.  For selecting an adviser he focuses on what the advantages are of choosing a more senior person and what to be cautious of with a young, early career, advisor. He weighs what an adviser’s prominence can and cannot do for you.  It can give you easy access to connections, but it cannot be absorbed.

He also points out what to look for in a postdoc in order to be well prepared for a permanent position. For a postdoc he says your job is three things:

You must decide in what area of science to make your name. You must finish at least one significant project. And, you must establish your identity in the research community sufficiently to land an assistant professorship or a junior position in an industrial or government laboratory.

This section drew some mixed feelings for me.  I wish I had had more advice on choosing an adviser three years ago when I was applying to graduate school.  However, due to some changes, I am in the middle of settling into a new advising situation and this advice was timely for adviser selection round two(this post is late, I have a new adviser, but I read this while I was still considering several people).  I didn’t make the best choice of adviser to get started, but this time, I had a much better idea of what I need and want form an adviser and what want to do research-wise.   This time I knew to look more for a mentor than the person with the exact technical background.