If you're thinking about pursuing a postdoc, start with some self-exploration about a year before you graduate — if not before. What kind of work do you hope to do? And with whom would you like to work? Consider your income needs, too. A higher-paying job might not be more lucrative in a big city: A postdoc in a major metropolis might pay more up front, but big-city postdoc salaries are, on average, worth about $7,000 less after accounting for the higher cost of living, the AAAC says.
Once you understand where you see yourself, you can better target your efforts to specific labs or researchers. Learn as much as you can about the key authors and labs in your interest area — and visit conferences to meet them in person, if you can.
Nurture relationships with those people when and how you can, share your zeal in the subject matter, and keep your eyes peeled for opportunities in academic research. As Georgetown University suggests, lab researchers scour poster sessions to connect with potential postdocs. If you happen to be in the right place at the right time, it could make a world of difference in your prospects.
Whatever you do and however you do it, it's best to start early, before the role of your dreams gets scooped up. And stay flexible: Along the way, you might even decide that a postdoc isn't right for you. If that's the case, there are plenty of other opportunities outside of academia.
Pharma and academia aren't your only options. Life science suppliers, such as Corning Life Sciences, are looking for eager scientists just like you. Check out our current opportunities.