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This place [orientationalizing]

This morning, I rushed over to a "mandatory" visiting scholar and postdoc orientation event, which I think is best described as a "useful waste of time." If I were a brand-new postdoc, particularly one from a foreign country, it would have been downright helpful. As it was, it largely left me reflecting on how variable a person's experience can be as a postdoc.

The Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Institute actually starts messaging incoming people a couple of weeks or months in advance of one's physical appearance on campus. From those messages, it becomes abundantly clear that people at this university are highly interested in lobbing good resources in the direction of their postdocs, to help get us to do the best possible stuff that we can do, whatever that may be. Since I have prior experience, I've already jumped through many important hoops, but it's still helpful and comforting to know one big thing: other people care, and want to foster a sense of community as best they can.

Unlike a prior institution, there's clear recognition here that postdocs are a strong, integral arm of the research machine (not just glorified graduate students), and that at the same time we need access to an array of professional development tools. The ready availability of such tools means we don't have to individually invent and reinvent them for ourselves, which actually frees up more of our time and brains and energies to focus on doing awesome research. While I am not "ambitious" from the perspective of obtaining power, as annikusrex noted, I am indeed ambitious in a number of other ways, and "awesome research" is one such way. [other ways: rowing, bicycling, cooking, heh]

So, this is all reassuring. But now it's time to get back to focusing on that awesome research some more. Ahem.

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