- Do great science as a graduate student. Publish your work in visible journals. Co-author and submit publications with your graduate mentor before moving on. Become known in your department and institution as an engaged and productive graduate student. Take every opportunity you can to speak about your work at your own institution.
- Be involved. Attend meetings—be brave and talk to PIs (particularly those with whom you might be interested in doing a postdoc). Attend small conferences where it’s easier to meet and interact with people. Present your work as a poster at regional, national and international meetings. Try to meet or eat lunch with scientists in your field who are visiting your department to speak. Seek out opportunities to interact with other people in the department (e.g., start a journal club focused on your research area of interest).
- Make the most of supervisory committee interactions. Look at each committee meeting not as an administrative hoop to jump through, but as a chance to get good advice from your committee and to show them why your research—and you—are so great. Set up meetings with your committee members between the required meetings as appropriate; build a relationship over time. Doing this will help you secure good recommendation letters that are based on a real understanding of you and your work.
- Get teaching experience, particularly if you’re interested in landing a teaching position someday. Most postdocs are hired as full-time research staff and don't get the opportunity to teach as postdocs (caveat: you might be able to find chances to teach on your own time, and Postdoc Teaching Fellowships) are becoming more prevalent). Whether you're planning on a "teaching career" or not, building your teaching skill through experience will help you become better at presenting data, mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, interviewing for jobs, convincing agencies to fund you, and more.
The Office of Postdoctoral Studies (OPS) serves as a centralized professional and career development resource for postdoctoral scholars at UNL. The OPS provides information, resources, and networking opportunities to enhance the postdoctoral experience. For even more about the postdoc experience, see the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) site. The journal Science hosts a listing of current postdoc opportunities.
This advice was adapted from "Becoming A Postdoc" by Dr. Ann Miller for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.