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Postdocs for Career Prep

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For doctoral students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, landing a job as a research-oriented university faculty member typically requires having spent time as a postdoctoral researcher. But a new study shows that the research faculty path isn’t the only reason students pursue a postdoc.

In a survey of nearly 6,000 doctoral students, more than a third of the students with plans to pursue postdocs said they had more interest in careers outside of academic research. The finding is surprising because it challenges the notion that postdoctoral research is a stepping stone primarily for research faculty positions, said Henry Sauermann, associate professor in Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.

“There’s this common belief that Ph.D. students pursue a postdoc because they want to have a faculty career,” Sauermann said. “The answer is much more complex.”

The results of the research were published in the journal Science. The work was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. — Josh Brown

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