lations at the institution. A few institutions levy a small per capita fee on departments that hire postdocs.
An institution cannot always solve practical problems of housing, parking, and day care, especially in large and/or expensive cities. But even basic informational resources can improve morale and speed the search for a dwelling or other resource. As one dean put it, “Every minute a postdoc spends looking for a parking space is a minute lost from more productive activities.”
A primary function of the postdoctoral office is to provide support for postdocs who are searching for jobs. While advisers are often best positioned to contact and suggest potential employers in their own field, a postdoctoral office can offer job counseling for other fields or sectors, coordinate and publicize recruiter visits, maintain contacts with former postdocs, post job openings, and hold workshops on employment trends. A career office can also assist with the basic mechanics of job seeking: how to write a CV, prepare a cover letter, organize slides for a talk, and so on. Especially helpful are statistics on recent jobs taken by postdocs, especially permanent positions. According to COSEPUP's survey, only a few institutions have career service offices that are focused on postdocs (see Box).
A central postdoctoral office constitutes not only a practical resource but also a focal point to unite a dispersed population that may number a thousand or more. At the same time, each large division or school (e.g., the school of engineering, arts and sciences, etc.) needs to address its own particular postdoc population. For example, the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins designates a faculty member to discuss professional or personal issues related to the postdoctoral experience with any postdoc or faculty member.
Postdocs need the most assistance when they first arrive. Argonne National Laboratory provides a Newcomers' Office, whose offerings range from lists of recent appointments (to introduce newcomers) to recycled furniture for arriving families. A volunteer spouse' s program is also available.
Does Your Organization Provide Job Placement Services for Your Postdocs?
About half do ... either as part of general student/employee services, through the adviser, or from an assigned individual whose sole responsibility is to work with postdocs (and/or graduate students). For the other half, job placement is the dual responsibility of the adviser and the postdoc. A few organizations mentioned such resources as career centers, job fairs, job placement web sites, and general student services. Several reported that job placement activities are localized and vary by institutional unit.
COSEPUP Survey Results