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Onboarding A Postdoc

Onboarding a postdoc

I recently looked up my old template for a first meeting with a new MSc student with a specific purpose: we just hired a new postdoc whom I will be supervising, and I wanted to have an appropriate onboarding checklist to make sure the first week runs smoothly and the postdoc will feel welcome in our group (even though I won’t be physically in the Netherlands yet).

So, I sat down and developed an onboarding checklist for a new postdoc. Here it goes:

  1. Welcome and introductions:
  • See who will be there to welcome postdoc on first working day, show office, and show them around the lab and offices.
  • Schedule a meeting with the postdoc to introduce yourself and the research group.
  • Explain the goals and objectives of the research group, as well as the specific project the postdoc will be working on.
  • Get to know the postdoc’s background and research interests.
  • Discuss postdoc’s working style and communication preferences and communicate about my working style.
  1. Procedures:
  • Explain the procedures for onboarding from HR and any required paperwork that needs to be completed.
  • Discuss the timeline and deliverables for the project.
  • Walk the postdoc through the format of regular team meetings and other important meetings (such as project updates, presentations, and review meetings).
  • Discuss the expectations for the postdoc’s work, including quality standards and timelines.
  • Explain the expectations for performance and progress updates.
  • Clarify my role in the supervision and any other team members’ roles. Explain how we supervise postdocs differently from PhD candidates.
  1. Tools and resources:
  • Provide the postdoc with the necessary tools and resources to get started (such as access to relevant software, databases, and literature). Explain the library system, server for computing, server with information, Teams folders, and give new computer.
  • Explain how you will provide feedback on their work (e.g. regular meetings and feedback on written documents).
  • Provide information about the university’s policies and procedures (such as ethical considerations, safety procedures, open access policy, data management, intellectual property, and reporting requirements).
  1. Project-specific tasks:
  • Discuss the scope of the project and any specific tasks that the postdoc will be responsible for.
  • Review any existing research or data that the postdoc will be working with.
  • Discuss the methods and data analysis techniques that will be used in the project.
  • Help the postdoc to develop a preliminary project plan and timeline for their assigned tasks.
  • Discuss plans and opportunities for conferences and publications.
  • Identify opportunities for learning new skills, attending summer schools, and other possibilities for growth and development.
  1. Setting expectations and next steps:
  • Set expectations for the next few weeks and the first month of the postdoc’s work.
  • Organize a seminar in which the postdoc can tell the rest of the research group about their background.
  • Clarify any questions or concerns the postdoc may have.
  • Set a schedule for regular check-ins and feedback sessions.
  • Provide additional resources or support the postdoc may need to get started. Introduce them to key people (secretaries, lab technicians).
  • Thank the postdoc for joining the team.

Do you have particular things you do when welcoming a new postdoc to your group? I’m all ears (or better: eyes) for your suggestions!

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