FAQ

Here is a general resource for Postdocs at any stage of their career,  you can find information for before to move to Utah, how to start your Postdoc, information for resources needed for Postdocs when applying for grants, looking to develop new skills, and how to go to the next stage, look for a job, who to ask help for, write your CV or resume, etc.

 

If you have suggestions for additional FAQs that we can add, information to improve any of the answers below or if you did not find the information you were looking for, please email us, we would be glad to help!

 

Making the Most of Your Postdoctoral Experience
Leveraging UPDA Resources
Exploring Utah
Moving to Utah
 Job Search
International Postdocs

best-resource

Making the Most of Your Postdoctoral Experience

What’s the best resource to help me make the most of my postdoc?

There are several resources available at the University of Utah:

Utah Postdoctoral Association

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

RATs (Research Administration Training Series)

Postdocs are also encouraged to join the National Postdoc Association (NPA) and the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). Membership to both organizations is free if you sign-up using your University of Utah e-mail address. Both provide resources on a wide variety of topics.

 

What benefits are postdocs entitled to and where do I find information on my benefits?

Postdoctoral benefits can be complicated due to the fact that postdocs are defined using a variety of job codes, rules and regulations can vary based on citizenship, and funding status (i.e., what grants or fellowships you are paid from) can affect your eligibility for some benefits.

  1. All of the benefits that postdocs are eligible for are listed on the University of Utah Benefits Eligibility Chart. Note that postdocs are split into three different job codes, if you don’t know your job code you can look at the “job title” on your paycheck or ask HR.
  2. All employees are entitled to both sick days and vacation days. How your department tracks these days may vary, but the minimum provided are detailed by HR.
  3. Maternity/Paternity Leave (as well as other extended medical leaves) are allowed under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Information on FMLA can be found through HR.
  4. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs offers travel awards to all postdocs. Information on how to apply for that award can be found on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website. Human Resources is a good resource for any questions you have regarding your rights and benefits as a postdoc. You can find the appropriate person to contact through the “Find Your HR Contacts” page.

For additional information, check out summaries from our post Lunch & Learns on “Postdoctoral Rights & Benefits.”  Summaries are provided in the “Past Events” section of the UPDA website.

 

How do I choose between HMO and PPO plan?

Choosing your plan is not easy, talk with your colleagues to ask what they have and what they advise. The National Postdoc Association made a nice page on U.S. healthcare plan, and sent a nice summary about the difference between HMO and PPO.

 

How do I find grants and/or fellowships to apply for?

Ask your colleagues!  Faculty and postdocs in your field are the best resource for what funding opportunities are applicable to you. Other resources include the following:

  • Weekly University email At the U” includes a section listing extramural and intramural funding opportunities.
  • SciVal Funding.  SciVal Funding is an online tool for searching funding opportunities and matching your project with appropriate sponsors (including government agencies, private entities, corporations, foundations and nonprofit organizations). The Research Administration Training Series (RATs) has a recurrent class (Introduction to SciVal Funding) in which they teach participants how to navigate this comprehensive database and efficiently use its many features including how to create a search profile, how to save funding searches, how to add opportunities to a favorites list, and how to create search alerts.
  • Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) has information about funding for postdocs.
  • Biosciences PhD Program has a list of training grants.
  • The J. Willard Marriott Library offers grant training. You can also contact the library in order to work with a librarian who will help you identify opportunities specific to your field.
  • Intramural scholarship for postdocs – New NCI program (iCURE). More information in this flyer.
  • There is an internal travel award for postdocs.  More information can be found HERE.
  • L’Oreal Grant for women postdoctoral Scientist – Deadline 2018: February 2nd.
  • Trialect (free funding database)

For additional information, check out summaries from our post Lunch & Learns on “Postdoc Fellowships & Grants.”  

Summaries are provided  in the “Past Events” section of the UPDA website.

 

What resources are available on campus to help me apply to fellowships/grant?

The writing center is a great resource for writing fellowships/grants. Contact Charlene Orchard (c.d.orchard@utah.edu).

It is very important to route all grants through OSP (Office of Sponsored Projects). OSP ensures grants are compliant with University policy.

There is a grant writing support services available through the Research Development Office.

For additional information, check out summaries from our post Lunch & Learns on “Postdoc Fellowships & Grants.”

 

How do I find groups to join on campus?

The University of Utah has a wide variety of groups on campus.  The best way to find out about them is to talk to your colleagues and spend some time browsing the University of Utah website.  Keep in mind that many student groups that welcome graduate students will also welcome postdocs.

A list of groups and offices that some postdocs have found useful in the past is below.  If you have suggestions of groups that should be added to this list, please let us know.

  • Women in Medicine & Science (WiMS)
  • Graduate & Advanced Lady Scientists (GALS)
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans (SACNAS)
  • Office of Health Equity & Inclusion (OHEI)
  • American Indian Resource Center (AIRC)
  • Faculty Development Tools for Success Seminar Series
  • International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

upda-events

Leveraging UPDA Resources

What advice do you have regarding UPDA events?

The UPDA hosts events monthly and annually.  Attend as many or as few events as you want. Our recommendations on how to best take advantage of these events is below:

  • Monthly Lunch & Learns — These monthly professional development seminars are a great opportunity to learn about resources on campus and topics of importance to postdocs (e.g., funding, benefits, etc.).  Attend seminars that interest you. E-mail announcements are sent to the UPDA listserv on a weekly basis.  If you are unable to attend a seminar or want to know more about past seminars, browse through the summaries of each Lunch & Learn seminar on our Past Events page.
  • Annual Workshops — The UPDA supports two annual workshops on campus.  The first is the Summer Postdoc Leadership Series, which is a five part series held annually in May and June.  All postdocs are welcome to register (e-mail announcements will occur in early Spring). But, we recommend taking this workshop early (1st or 2nd year) in your postdoc experience. The second is a Communication Workshop, which is a multi-week series help annually in August and September. The workshop is based on the concept of 3MT (three-minute thesis) and focuses on developing the skills necessary to communicate your research to a general lay audience.  All postdocs are welcome, but we recommend taking this workshop later in your postdoc, when your research project is solidified and you are starting to think about the job market.
  • Social Events — The UPDA hosts three social events each year.  Our hallmark event is National Postdoc Appreciation Week in September.  We also host a Summer BBQ (or Cook-Out) in June and a Winter Social in January.  We encourage everyone to attend these events in order to meet other postdocs on campus!

learn-events

How do I learn about UPDA events?
You can find the information in our website. You can also join the UPDA listserv and follow us on Facebook. Our Facebook group “Utah Post-Doctoral Association (UPDA)” is a closed group in order to prevent spam.  You will be added within 48 hours of requesting to join.

listserv

How do I join the UPDA (or any other) listserv?

To subscribe to UPDA mailing list, you can send a subscription request to sympa@lists.utah.edu The subject line should be “Subscribe UPDA [First Name] [Last Name]. The email address from which the message was sent will then be subscribed and you will receive confirmation email.

You can also manage your subscription preferences to the UPDA (or any other campus listserv) by logging onto the Syma list service using your University of Utah e-mail address and password. Lists managed through the Health Science campus can be accessed here and those (like the UPDA) managed through Main campus can be accessed here.

If you are interested to become more involved please come to our Board Meetings – usually on the first Friday of each month, at noon in HSEB 5100A. Please check our Website for changes.

 

Would my postdoc experience be better if I joined the UPDA board?

Joining the board is a great way to learn more about how the University works and make sure the activities that you think are most important get planned!  Members of the UPDA Board attend monthly meetings and take an active role in planning events for the postdoctoral community. In addition, joining the board is an opportunity to get experience that you may not typically acquire during your postdoctoral work, such as leadership, event organization, team work, mentoring, communication etc. All of these skills will help you when you go on the job market. The UPDA Board is also a great way to expand your network or to make friends if you are new in the city. If you want to know more about how the board works, contact any of the current board members or come to our board meeting, held on the first Friday of each month, at noon in HSEB 5100A, and see by yourself!

 

I am having issues with my colleagues (or funding or settling into Utah or something else related to being a postdoc).  Who can I contact?

You are always welcome to contact the UPDA. This e-mail address is answered by our board members (your postdoc peers).

However, for serious grievances or problems that require support within the University administration, we strongly encourage you to contact Jennifer Mabey.  Jennifer Mabey is the Assistant Dean leading the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and is available to help all postdocs on campus.

car

Exploring Utah

How do I get around Salt Lake City?  Do I need a car?

Salt Lake City is very car friendly, but also has a good public transit system. So, you can thrive in Salt Lake City regardless of whether or not you have a car.

If you want to take advantages of exploring Utah and heading to the Great Outdoors, a car will make your life easier.It is good to know that compared to some other States, the gas is less expensive and the traffic is not bad in Salt Lake City. Still commuting during rush hour can be frustrating, so is finding parking space on Campus. Lot of people use public transportation to go to work, and their car for their week-end activities. Some important information  you need to know about owning a car below:

  • Parking on campus also requires purchasing a parking pass (see Commuter Services for current details).  
  • When choosing a car, keep in mind that the mountain roads get significant snow and require 4-wheel drive in the winter months.
  • Many people buy electric cars here, as there are some tax discounts from the Utah State, as part of the ‘clear air’ and ‘environment safe’ policy. More info here. There are also charging stations on campus.
  • You need to register your vehicle at the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles

Without a car, you can still get around the city (work, shopping, movies, pubs), get to the canyons to do some skiing and/or snowboarding (by public transportation), and visit Park City and the surrounding areas. Key information about living car free is below:

  • The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is responsible for public transportations in Salt Lake area. We have well developed bus system as well as local train system called TRAX. The University offers a free TRAX/Bus pass to students and staff. For more information, schedules, lines, please visit the TRAX website.
  • The University also supports a carshare program, called Enterprise Carshare. You pay an annual fee to obtain a carshare card.  With that card you can access cars on campus and throughout the Salt Lake City area.  Each time you use a car there is an hourly charge based on size and quality of the car.  Enterprise Carshare is a national program, so you can also use your card in other metropolitan areas. For current information, check out Commuter Services.
  • The University has an extensive campus shuttle system for getting around campus.  It is a great option for getting across campus during the day when it may be difficult to find parking. The Live Shuttle Tracking and Text Message route provides the location of each bus. The map can be accessed from your computer or mobile device here.
  • Uber, Lyft, and a variety of car services are available in the greater Salt Lake City area. These are a great option for getting quickly to the airport.

ski

I have never skied.  What do I need to know as a novice skier?

January is “Learn to Ski Month” in Utah.  Many resorts offer discounts for a rental, lesson, and lift ticket package for new skiers.  Beware that the eligibility for each offer varies by resort.  Many resorts will only let you use the offer if you have never put on skis before. See Ski Utah Website for more information.

 

I love skiing, but have never skied in Utah.  What do I need to know as an intermediate or advanced skier?

There are 14 ski resorts in Utah. A good way to discover them is to get a Yeti Pass which allows you to ski once in each resort. All the resorts are offering season passes, with discount when bought early (as early April for the next ski season). Equipment and gear rentals are available at the University of Utah Campus Recreation Services.

Check for road conditions and closures before you go skiing.

 

Where’s the best place for a hike in Salt Lake City?

You can hike from the city to City Creek Canyon, or from the campus on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. At a short distance from Salt Lake City, you have access to beautiful hikes in Millcreek Canyon ($3 fee entrance per car) and Big Cottonwood Canyon. The book “60 hikes within 60 miles” is a very helpful guide. A good starting point could be this website. AllTrails is also a very useful tool, giving information on the trails, the difficulty, the best time of the year to go, and the hikers comments permit to have a good idea of the current state of the trail.

national-parks

I hear there are a bunch of National Parks.  What do I need to know?

Utah has 5 National Parks, 7 National Monuments, and 43 State Parks. Information about them and what you need to know to plan your visit can be found at:

Utah State Park Office  

US National Park Service

Additional information about state and national parks, as well as other landmarks, can be found here.

 

I really like culture.  Where should I look for theater shows and music performances?

There are several live music and cultural activities happening in SLC:

 

Live music:

Twilight Concert Series

Red Butte Concert Series

The Depot

The State Room

The Urban Lounge

Shaggy’s Velvet Room

Kingsbury Hall (music & theatre events)

Kilby Court

Jazz in Salt Lake City

Usana Amphitheater

 

Cultural events:

Gallery Stroll

U of U Theatre Productions

U of U Upcoming Shows

Kingsbury Hall

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Natural History Museum of Utah

Temple Square

Eccles Theater

The Leonardo Museum

sport

I really like sports.  What teams are good to see around here?

Utah is home for professional teams:

And college sports:

The availability of football and basketball tickets can be limited, but, many college sporting events are free. Check out the Faculty/Staff Discount page for current deals (most postdocs are eligible for staff discounts).

 

Does being a postdoc at the University of Utah get me any discounts?

Most postdocs are eligible for faculty/staff discounts to University of Utah sporting events.

Your UCard also gives you eligibility for a variety of discounts at local attractions and stores.  For example, the Natural History Museum is free to all University of Utah employees. Feel free to ask local businesses if they provide discounts to University of Utah employees.  You may find a discount that is not well advertised and save some money!

The Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) keeps the most up-to-date list of UCard discounts.  Postdocs may not be eligible for all listed discounts and all potential discounts may not be listed.

 

Moving to Utah

Where should I live?

Living in the northeastern or southeastern parts of Salt Lake City offer the easiest commutes. Neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, Downtown, the Avenues, University area, and Sugarhouse are close to the Campus and present few commute obstacles. The University is easily accessed from areas located in southeast Salt Lake City via I-215 or I-80 and Foothill Blvd. You could live as far south as the Cottonwood canyons in Sandy (where the ski resorts are only a few miles away) and most of your ~35 minute commute would be highway.

 

What is the rental market in Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City has an active rental market that includes apartments, condos, and houses. Rent varies from $500 to $3000 per month depending on where you live and whether you have roommates. When renting make sure to ask what utilities are included.  You may have to pay for electric, gas, cable (internet, tv, phone), and trash separately from your monthly rent.

 

What resources exist to help me find on-campus housing?

University of Utah offers on-campus housing for students, faculty, and staff. It is one of the largest housing programs in the whole country and accommodates people from all over the world. They provide more than a thousand unfurnished apartments with utilities, cable TV, telephone and high speed internet provided. More information you can find here and/or here.

 

What resources exist to help me find off-campus housing?

KSL is one of Utah’s local news station and is a great resource for information. They provide a house rental search function on their website.  Their Classifieds also surpass Craiglist for its breadth of listings and reliability of sales. So, that’s a great place to buy or sell used furniture. For an interesting perspective on KSL, read The Atlantic’s story “How a Mormon-Church Owned Site Defeated Craiglist in Utah”

Many individuals find the best rental options by walking or driving around the neighborhoods they want to live in. However, more and more apartment buildings are advertising their properties online.  Use general search engines, such as Google Maps or Apartment Finder or Zillow, to browse potential rental properties.

Other website available for Apartment searching are: ApartmentList.com, Apartments.com, ABODO Apartments and, Rent Bits.

Also, don’t hesitate to as advises on our Facebook Page, many Postdocs found great opportunities that way.

 

Where can I go grocery shopping?

You can find everything you need at Smith’s, Target or Walmart. To focus on food, you can go to Sprouts, Macey’s, Harmons or Trader Joe’s. There are also farmer’s markets around the city.

 

I have kids, where can I find child care and/or schools?

Child care

Children’s Service Society of Utah 
Child care Coordinating Office (U of U)

Private Schools
Realms of Inquiry
Rowland Hall-St. Mark’s School
Utah Montessori Schools
Dancing Moose Montessori School (preschool to 2nd grade)
The Waterford Institute
Public School Districts (Northeast to Southeast):
Salt Lake City School District
Murray School District

academic

Job Search

How do I find an academic job?

Faculty positions are posted year-round, with the majority of positions posted in the late-summer to mid-winter time frame (Aug – Jan).  Telling your colleagues that you are on the market is one of the best ways to learn about current openings.

It is also important to talk with your colleagues and mentors about whether you are ready for the academic job market. The ideal length for a postdoc and the credentials (publications, funding history, and teaching experience) necessary to be successful on the academic job market vary by field. Also, think about the type of institution where you want to work (undergraduate-only, research-focused medical center, etc.).

For further details on the academic job search, read our past Lunch and Learn summaries from 2017 and 2016.  

 

Are there listservs I should join to learn about jobs?

Most faculty positions are posted publicly.  The following three places contain most of the open faculty positions:

However, keep in mind the following:

  • Some University departments will only post open positions on their department website. So, if there is a specific university that you want to work for, make sure to check their department website.
  • Professional societies and journals often post faculty positions specific to a given discipline on their website, so check out whether your societies and journals have a way to sign-up to hear about these opportunities. 

cv

Can someone at the U help me craft a C.V.?

The best resource for academic job application materials is your peers.  Ask friends who went through the process if they are willing to share their materials and/or provide feedback on yours.  

The Chronicles of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed are also an excellent resource for academic job advice.  The University of Utah has subscriptions to both websites, so you can access all content from on-campus, but will need to sign-in through the library to access some content off-campus.  Check out their advice sections for tips and tricks regarding C.V.s.

More information and resources are listed in the summary of our March Lunch and Learn: CV to resume.

 

How do I find a non-academic job?

Network, network, network!  Research regularly demonstrates that the number one thing that helps people get jobs is their professional network.  So, attend mixers and get to know people outside your field. Talk with your colleagues before you transition to industry.  Realize that informal interviews (where you e-mail someone with a kind of position you are interested in and ask for 20-30 minutes of their time to learn about their job and their company without any expectation of getting something other than information) is a great way to learn about what kind of opportunities exist.  For more advice, check out our past Lunch & Learn seminars on LinkedIn, turning your C.V. into a Resume, and non-academic careers.

 

Can someone at the U help me craft a resume?

As a postdoc you can apply to become a member of the Utah Alumni Association and access to their resources. The Utah Alumni Association regularly hosts networking events, workshops for job applicants, and offers one-on-one consults. You can learn how to become a member of the Alumni Association here, and can contact Amy Gleason  with questions.

 

How do I negotiate my academic start-up package?

Negotiating for academic positions is quite complex. Here are some resources for negotiating academic start-up packages:

Nature jobs, The Faculty Series

A new PI guide to putting together a start-up request

Negotiating Salary and Your Start-Up Package

 

International Postdocs

How do I apply for a postdoc position in the U.S. from abroad?

Many individuals find postdocs by contacting individual faculty in their area of research. Most fields advertise postdoc positions at annual conferences or through field-specific e-mail distribution lists.

Open positions at the University of Utah are posted here. We recommend separately searching for “post doc” and “post doctoral” to see the majority of current positions.  Note that this job board covers opportunities within the hospital and health science campus as well as the main campus (humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields).

 

I am international postdoc and will be traveling. What do I need to do?

You can travel inside the US without problem. To travel outside the US, you may need a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 from the International Center. Signatures take 24 hours to process, so plan ahead. You should verify that your other immigration documents are in order and you have a valid passport and visa. For more complete and updated information, consult the International Center website.

 

How do I rent an apartment or open a bank account if I do not have credit history in the U.S.?

Many banks will allow you to open a bank account and get a debit card without a credit history. You will have to start to make your credit history to get a credit card. Paying rent is part of building the credit history. Usually, the University of Utah employees have no problem to rent an apartment. In some exceptional cases, you might be asked for a US citizen to vouch for you.

 

I have never done taxes in the U.S.  Are there resources to help me?

The international center summarize a lot of information on how to fill taxes on their website. Talks with fellow postdocs coming from the same country as you do, they are likely to advise the best resources for your case. It is also possible to get help from private companies, such as H&R block, which are competent to help foreign postdocs.

 

Can I drive in US with my foreign driving license?

When you arrive in US, you can drive with your foreign driving license for up to six months if you have an international driving license. We highly recommend to get your US driving license as soon as you have a social security number. It will be your ID, allowing you to enter pubs, buy alcohol and travel within US without having to show your passport all the time. To get your driving license in Utah, make an appointment at the DMV, you will have to take a written test based on the driver handbook (you can find online tests to practice and often time you can have the handbook with you to take the test). Then you will have to take a driving skill test. You are asked to provide the vehicle to take the test (it can be a rental car).

More information here.

 

Do I need to get a social security number?

Yes! Try to get it as soon as you arrive in Utah. You need a Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits and get some other government services. It takes a bit of time to get it, usually longer for your dependent, and you will need it to get your contract, to apply for the driving license, to fill your taxes… Here are more information concerning the social security number.