Why I Applied to Postdocs

If you’re a regular on my blog, you know that I’m a historian of public health and that I received my Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences in 2019. However after graduating from Columbia University, I decided not to pursue a traditional academic career. While I was almost certain that I was done with academia, I’ve now changed my mind and I applied to postdocs!

After I become a Doctor, I was in dire need of a break from the academic world. This led me to shift gears to focus on my business and become a full-time content creator. There were several reasons why I felt that continuing a path in academia wasn’t for me, and why I wasn’t looking at postdocs a couple of months ago. From the expectations of academia, to the impact of scholarly work and the lack of financial incentive, seeking out a ten year track faculty position didn’t seem at all enticing to me. I felt like I needed a break for good.

However, taking a step back to rest from school and focus on other things allowed me to recharge and reflect on what I really want. While I (thankfully) have other passions, I’m a researcher at heart. I’m proud of my work and I have a sincere burning desire to share it with the world. In order to do so, reintegrating the academic community is essential. In addition to benefiting from the structure that a postdoc would provide me to publish my work, it would also give me access to critical resources that aren’t otherwise available to the public.

Also, with everything that has happened this year, now is the perfect time for Black women to apply for anything in the higher education space. So I figured, why not! This is advice I’d give to anyone in Cohort Sistas, so it made sense for me to practice what I preach. Institutions are actively seeking to diversify their faculties and these are opportunities to be leveraged. There is no better time for me to apply to postdocs when selection committees are looking for candidates who look like me.

Perhaps most importantly, I am in a much better place mentally after doing a lot of work on myself internally. This was a particularly decisive journey of healing to teach myself to be okay with not having my self-worth and identity primarily defined by my academic work and achievements. It’s important to remember that it’s totally okay to look at things from a different angle and change your mind on previous decisions or thoughts. In fact, it’s healthy! In my case it allowed me to reignite one of my main passions in a more meaningful way.

Have you ever changed your mind on a big life decision? Wish me luck!

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  1. Love your candor Ijeoma! We are learning everyday and you are allowed to change your mind about things! Wishing all the best with your post doc applications!