Help me change my field

Alice and her friends answer questions that you don’t want to ask your preceptor, peer, or colleagues regarding your career in science.

Dear Alice,

I hope this e-mail finds you well. I am looking for a postdoctoral position in the United States. I am also keen to change from zebrafish to mouse models or humans. The second most common reply I receive from the labs that I contact—the first is that they have no space in the lab—is that they prefer to hire a postdoc who had worked in the same research area previously. How can I convince them that I can adapt and learn?

Thank you.

– Sahar

Dear Sahar,

To make your case to your potential adviser, read some of the publications coming from her lab. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the system you would like to work on by proposing a project that fits with other, ongoing projects in the lab. If the new system offers advantages to the questions that you are interested in addressing, mention them. Are you sure that you want to change your field of interest, or is it just changing model systems that you work on in the laboratory? If it is the latter, and you wish to continue to stay in the general field of your interest, propose experiments that will answer important questions you are concerned with. Also, if you have any special techniques that you can bring to the lab, emphasize that.

Following the advice above and sending in your application in plenty of time should allow you to find a position in a laboratory that suits you.

– Alice

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