Column: Undercover academic
Postdoc to PI expectations
As a postdoc in Canada I wanted a job that I didn't fully understand. I wanted to be a lecturer, in the British sense, not a sessional lecturer in the North American sense. When I found my new job and people asked if I was looking forward to it, my answer was always a carefully qualified yes. I had no real idea of what I was letting myself in for. I knew there would be teaching, and building up an independent research career, but there were always the elusive quantities of service and administration roles that no one, at any point in my academic career, had chosen to explain. I'm starting to understand why.
The one thing I never had was false expectations of instant prestige and a ready made research group. I think some postdocs are disappointed when they begin their long sought after academic position: they expect to have a lab comparable to the one they just left. They expect equipment, experienced hands and funding, none of which simply materialise. It isn't the next rung on a career ladder, it is the bottom rung of a new ladder. You have to work your way up.
The Undercover academic is a university lecturer in the UK