Postdocs at Berkeley Lab contribute their talents and expertise in an important way to research projects. Some stay, while others move on, perhaps to academia, for-profit, non-profit, or government jobs. Some continue with research, others teach, take on science-related roles, or shift to non-science-related roles.
To date, there has been little data on where postdocs have gone in their careers. But last summer, the Career Pathways Office began a project to track the career outcomes for postdocs who worked at the Lab from January 2015 to the present. One goal of the project was that the information collected would help CPO staff optimize its training and career development support for Lab postdocs. Another goal was to provide postdocs with career outcome data to help them make informed decisions about their career paths.
To date, CPO has found current career information for more than a thousand former postdocs who worked at the Lab from 2015 through April 2020 — 95 percent of the population of postdocs that worked at the Lab during this period.
Some highlight findings are:
- The largest percentage of alumni (37.2 percent) are in for-profit companies, followed by academic institutions (34.2%) and government institutions (21.5%)
- More than half are in research roles. “Science-related” roles are the the next most popular
- Most (more than half) have remained in California
- For those working in government, 63% are research staff or technical directors
- For those working in academia, 53% are in faculty positions
Meg Rodriguez, Program Manager for the Career Pathways Office, noted, “The data is helping us think about how to best support our postdocs. For example, we can now begin to build a community of postdocs and alumni who can support each other. We are planning to launch a postdoc alumni newsletter that will highlight the work of our current and former postdocs, and promote community events and networking opportunities, for example.”
The Career Pathways Office is continuing to collect and analyze data, and is working with the HR Systems & Projects team to create an interactive website to facilitate customized viewing of the data. The Office will also continue to publish updated data annually. In the meantime, the overall results of the survey can be found at the CPO website.
In addition, the Lab has joined the Coalition for Next Generation Life Sciences (the first national lab to do so). This coalition of more than 50 universities has committed to tracking career outcomes for Ph.D. students and postdocs and providing updated information annually.
The Office plans to schedule webinars later this year to discuss the results of the survey and to gather suggestions for career development programming and resources; keep an eye out for notices of these events.