Beware of the Silo

In our work with international postdoctoral researchers, we have found that many of them are looking for opportunities to improve their cultural and linguistic skills outside of the lab. Postdocs are often so busy, it’s difficult to find the extra downtime to find opportunities to improve these skills.They often feel ‘silo’ed’, that is they exist in two spheres - their labs and their homes.Though universities are abundant with clubs, activities, and centers to foster experiences outside of the lab, there are so many choices, it can sometimes be easier not to choose.

Because we were personally curious and because we hear about amazing research that can save and change lives,  language connectED team members attended a free workshop on entrepreneurship and funding by the Founder Institute at the Pennovation Center at the University of Pennsylvania. We attended to see how this incubation center could benefit the researchers with whom we work and provide them with some information about places to find outside of their lab. We found that this type of university resource is an opportunity not only to improve their cultural and linguistic skills, but also for them to collaborate and perhaps take their research to the real world. In fact, in one coaching session, Becky was able to share this information with a Biomedical Postdoc from UPenn who is currently completing research in order to introduce a product to the market in the near future. In their coaching session, they worked on the researcher’s product pitch and planned how she could incorporate Pennovation workshops into her schedule. In this way, she could get out of her ‘silos’ and practice the cultural and linguistic skills she needs in order to realize her dream of making  people’s lives just a little bit better with her research.

Incubation centers are present on many campuses around the world. Are your postdocs aware of this interdisciplinary resource so they can get out of their silos? Tell us what is happening at your institution that can help postdocs jump start their careers and broaden their experiences.