The Academic Path
• Is there a clear description of the program available to trainees?
• How well do research and clinical exposures for scientists blend?
• What seminar series and visiting lecturers are organized for trainees and faculty?
• How good are the library and the associated information technology?
• Is there a critical mass of trainees in the program and in the institution as a whole?
• Does the program provide opportunities for formal presentations of research?
• Is there a strong policy with respect to postdoctoral affairs at the institution?
• Does the program have well-defined policies on training and postgraduate education, e.g. ethical conduct in research, intellectual property guidelines, publication policy, authorship policy, invention policy, safety policy, code of behavior on academic matters, postgraduate supervision policy and guidelines, etc?
Do not be concerned about discussing salary, benefits, book and travel allowances with potential supervisors and program directors. Discuss holiday time, meeting time, sick time, maternity/paternity leave, benefits and health insurance. Discussing expectations for working hours and weekends are also acceptable. These are all important issues.
• How is funding arranged?
• Are you expected to apply for competitive internal
and/or external funding?
• Does the program have an effective mentorship
program and career counseling?
• Are there institutional housing arrangements?
• Does the location allow you and your family to have
the quality of life you desire?
Living in an attractive environment makes life pleasant for the trainee and the family. Explore housing and living expense issues. Involve your family in the decision making. If you have a spouse (partner) and a family, make sure their needs are well met. If the family is not happy, the trainee will have an added burden. A community for the family is important, even if you stay in a location for only a few years. Do you need day care or schools? What type of public transportation is available? What university programs are available for partners? Institutions should have dedicated individuals to help with information on available services and relocation issues. If you need to consider the training requirements of your spouse/partner, make sure the institution is able and willing to provide for the academic needs of the couple. Institutions are becoming much more aware of this need and should be willing and able to discuss this with you. It is very important to make the training journey fun, so keep this in mind when making your choices.