Searching For Your First Job
Do not be shy to discuss salary, start-up funds, and space, but that can be done in general terms. Be sure to see the space offered. The real negotiating usually occurs on your second visit when details are very important. Discuss how your percent effort will be broken down (research, teaching, administrative, etc.). Investigate granting opportunities from relevant agencies. Inquire about internal grant competitions. Is there support and mentorship for junior faculty when they apply for initial grant funding? If funding is not obtained, what type of departmental support will be provided and for what period of time? You will be asked to provide the Chair or Director with a list of equipment that you need to start up your lab - either as your own or as communal infrastructure equipment to which you need unrestricted access. Indicate how frequent this access is and ask what the user cost will be. Your start-up need not reflect a specific dollar value. It is more important to make sure you have the equipment, supplies, resources, technical staff, and administrative support that you need to start your program and to work for at least three years without external funding. This may increase to five years depending on the funding environment at the time. The total dollar value then depends on what you need and should reflect the true costs at the specific institution. For example, salaries for support staff vary in different locations. You should have as much of what you need as possible when you arrive. Waiting for labs to be built (or renovated) and equipment to arrive may delay you considerably. Setting up a functional laboratory usually takes longer than originally expected. Thus, finish as much work as you can in your postdoctoral laboratory so that publications will come out as you set up your own laboratory in the new facility. There may be some overlap as you wind down your postdoctoral position and begin your faculty position and you may find yourself commuting for a short period of time.
Launching Your Biomedical Scientist Career
Once you arrive in your new position, be prepared for some frustration. By being well informed however, you can successfully navigate through the pitfalls of setting up a new office and research laboratory. Be very familiar with regulations - department, university, government, and funding agencies. Spending time reading guidelines is probably not how you want to spend your valuable time, however it will save you much grief and will speed up your set up. If relevant, be familiar with the regulatory guidelines for animal use, human subjects, radiation, hazardous materials, etc., and when in doubt seek information. Ask for advice. Identify administrators and faculty who can be most helpful to you during your start up period. Faculty members who have just set up their laboratory are very useful advisors. We can all learn from someone else's experiences. Good luck!