Final day of the Junior Researchers Meeting
The last day of the meeting (which was more like a full half-day) was devoted to jobs and the future of MCRN. Mary Lou had invited Sarah, Andrew, and Esther, who had landed jobs during the past year, to give us the ins and outs of their experiences during the application and interview process. We learned about the importance of building a network of people that can help you in the search for a position, doing your homework to figure out the interests of the department and the school, how to make a convincing case in a cover letter for a teaching position or a research position, and how to position yourself for a non-academic career, for example through a summer internship at a national laboratory.
Then we were divided into smaller groups to discuss strengths and weaknesses of the MCRN and how we would like to see the MCRN evolve. Many ideas emerged. Among the major strengths of the MCRN mentioned were the possibility to learn to work in cross-disciplinary groups, to visit other institutions and experience their culture, to learn about other disciplines, to build a professional network, to have access to experts, to be able to participate in webinars and be introduced to contemporary issues in climate science, (for undergraduates and grad students) to be exposed to the next level of research opportunities, to broaden your skill set, and to develop international connections. The annual Jr. Researchers meeting was seen as a place to learn and work together. Some weaknesses were also mentioned; particularly the lack of non-academic participation, and the lack of participation by climate scientists in focus groups. Everyone agreed that yesterday's hackathon was a success. Also, the minigrant program was mentioned as a good way to stimulate collaboration and promote peer-to-peer learning. Among the interesting new ideas brought forward were a summer school for early grad students, an REU for undergraduates, providing opportunities for grad students to visit other institutions, opening up to other disciplines, developing on-line courses, course material, and a library of resources, moving the annual meeting around, building connections outside MCRN, organize colloquium talks, and do public outreach to younger people.
The final hour was spent on brainstorming to generate ideas for focus groups. Some focus groups will continue, other will see a reduced level of activities. The suggestion for a new focus group on modern climates generated quite a bit of interest. These ideas will be worked out over the weekend and presented to the annual meeting next week.
Thank you to Hans Kaper for the summary!