Reflections Newsletter

Issue 2, February 2021

Welcome to my monthly newsletter!

On the final Thursday of each month you'll get this in your inbox featuring digests from my personal blog, Reflections, and updates and news related to career and professional development for advanced-degree holders. This effort has grown out of my experience as a graduate student and postdoc and now as a professional working in postdoctoral affairs. 

Missed the inaugural newsletter in January? Read it here​.

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Reflections Blog: February 2021


Conveying Your Value Prior to and During a Job Search

By networking, reframing your experience, and building a powerful narrative around your unique value proposition, you can improve your chances of landing a position in your desired career field.

This piece builds off content covered in January's post on Compounded Returns: Growing Your Network & Personal Brand​. 

Read My Latest Blog Post

Revisiting Past Blog Posts

The key to realizing outsized gains on your scholarly and personal brand as well as your professional network is to start early. 

Read More

While a postdoc is meant to be a temporary training position and the compensation may not be great, it can be useful to build skills and expertise as well as allow you time to consider your next career step.

Read More

Automation and digitization were rapidly changing the workforce years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated these trends. And if you think a knowledge-heavy career is immune to these changes, think again. 

Read More

News & Other Updates

Is the future of higher education online learning and programs targeted toward adult learners?

  • Demographics in the United States are changing such that the number of "traditional age" college students is declining rapidly - the so called higher education enrollment cliff
  • This trend is exasperated by increased skepticism around the value of a college degree
  • Given that there are and estimated 36 million Americans with some college credit but no degree​, many universities see appealing to these adult learners as critical to their long-term financial prospects
  • As higher education seeks to appeal to individuals seeking employable credentials, some question whether institutions are prioritizing technical over holistic education

For more see:

The Rise of the Mega University

Public Colleges are Going After Adult Students Online. Are They Already Too Late?

A Career-Aligned Major Isn't Enough

Liberal arts education: Waste of money or practical investment? 

Georgetown University's Center on Education & the Workforce's University Return on Investment (ROI) Reports (undergraduate degrees)

Research on the Scientific Workforce

Rethinking Immigration Policies for STEM doctorates

This important work dispells many preconceptions around how the temporary work visa (H-1B) and path to permanent residency affects wages and career pathways for STEM Ph.D. holders.

In addition, it illuminates the fact that while the H-1B is meant to be a temporary work visa, most Ph.D. H-1B holders (76%) progress to or are in the process of being sponsored for permanent residency after 3 years of employment in industrial research and development (R&D).

The authors propose that the H-1B is most likely being used to overcome inefficiencies in the move from international student visa (F-1 OPT) to permanent resident. 

Among their findings:

  • Overall levels of scholarly productivity and innovation do not differ for industrial R&D Ph.D. STEM holders first sponsored for H-1B vs first sponsored for permanent residency under the EB-2, exceptional ability process.
  • Industrial R&D H-1B STEM Ph.D. holders salaries and work hours do not differ from United States citizen workers, suggesting the H-1B process does not depress citizen wages nor does it exploit H-1B workers (at least in this dataset).
  • Industrial R&D H-1B STEM Ph.D. holders are twice as likely to work for a big technology company compared to other employers, presumably due to these firms having the resources to navigate the visa sponsorship process. The current visa and immigration system impacts the ability for smaller, start-up firms to access talent. 

Implications provided by the authors:

The inefficient visa path through the H-1B increases not only uncertainty for workers but also the costs for many employers who spend thousands of dollars per employee to first sponsor them for an H-1B and then several thousand more for permanent residency. These inefficiencies suggest that a streamlining of the path from doctorate to permanent residency or changes to the H-1B program may be warranted.  

For further reading:

We must retain foreign Ph.D.s to keep America's innovation advantage (opinion piece from the authors of the study above)

Thoughts on the Challenges of Being and International Scholar in the United States (opinion from my blog)

Resources for Trainees

For Further Reading & Exploration

Carpe Careers Column
National Science Foundation Data
Data on PhD & Postdoc Training: NGLS 
Career & Professional Development Research

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