The postdoc tango (by Luc Devroye; written on November 30, 2022)
The postdoc tango often lasts three long years. I argue why even three minutes is too much.
- The universities love to tango with you. Imagine, productive young minds at a third of the price. Slavery, anyone?
- (Some) aging researchers are waiting for your embrace. You do the rhythmic foot work, and they become your coauthors. They didn't even have to break a sweat educating you.
- Want to become a professor later? Well, first rate schools don't care how your curriculum vitae gyrates---they look at your inquisitive mind, your outlook and your character. They count the neurons in your brain, not your staccato steps. Like good soccer teams, they recruit future talent early. Dance a two-year postdoc milonga, and you will end up playing soccer on a cow pasture.
- Your future family is waiting. The clock is ticking. Get on with the rest of your life right away. Don't pasodoble the night away in a back alley in Buenos Aires.
Now, would I take you if you'd like to be my postdoc? Of course I would. I have no moral standards.
Would I vote for you for a faculty position if you spent one or more years doing the ballroom tango? Hell no: I don't want bandoneon noise on my floor.