I am an assistant professor at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI), starting [recently].
We have undergraduates and masters students at my institution, and we focus mainly on teaching, but we do have a strong research component and involve our undergraduates and masters students in cutting edge research. Our department does not have a PhD program. Postdocs and other hired/non-student researchers are pretty much non-existent (our university encourages writing grants to hire them if we get funding through large grants, and I will consider it in the future, but it looks like a relatively uncommon practice).
Over my short time here, I have received many emails asking to do a postdoc in my lab, or to do research in my laboratory (from undergraduates/masters students who were never enrolled in my institution). Some of the people emailing me have CVs and experience that is quite extensive (and in some cases h-indexes and publication lists much larger than mine), and I am surprised that they do not already have a more permanent position. Talking to other faculty, they also get these requests. In the postdoc cases, the postdocs are often applying for a 2nd or 3rd postdoctoral position. In my responses to them (I would feel bad just to ignore them), I explain the type of institution I work at, wish them luck in their job search and offer suggestions to look at more permanent positions.
I think this possibly speaks to a few things:I've heard about this sort of thing, but I don't really know what it is about. I think it's a combination of Factor 1 (not knowing enough about the positions you can apply for, the institutions that supply those positions) and Factor 3 (they cannot find other work.) (As I have asserted in the past, I suspect that for a large majority of Ph.D.s in chemistry, postdoctoral positions are inferior goods, i.e. they're positions that you take, for lack of a better position.)
Is this a common experience (both from their end as a research and my end as a professor at a PUI) based on what you have heard from the chemical community? What do you think about it?
- These researchers may not be aware of the type of institution that they are applying to,
- Perhaps they were not well mentored in their previous postdoctoral positions (In my opinion, your graduate and postdoctoral advisers should help mentor students during their jobs searches and help you think about your future)
- The economy is bad enough that these individuals are so desperate they are emailing anyone whose name pops up in their area, and finally
- Some of these researchers could be frantic due to the need to secure visa status (at least one has expressed that to me).
I think there's a significant (60+%?) percentage of these applications are immigration-related, i.e. it's a foot in the door to coming to/staying in the United States. But I'm just guessing. Folks, is this your experience? What have you found?