WAVE BREAK MEDIA/THINK STOCK
Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “what road do I take?”
The cat asked, “where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
– a paraphrased version of the scene in Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Karen is a Consultant within the Postdoc Development Centre (PDC) at Imperial. She gained her PhD in Structural Biology from the University of York, before joining the NRC-BRI research institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.  In 2011 she returned to the UK to take a Postdoc position at the University of Warwick. During her time as a researcher she published several publications in her maiden name, Ruane.
Karen is passionate about helping Postdocs reach their full potential and to achieve this, she provides a range of training and support to postdocs across Imperial. She is actively involved with the Postdoc Reps Network and is always eager to talk to Postdocs who would like to join this community of reps.

Although self-reflection sounds extremely difficult, it’s actually relatively simple.

Write
 The first thing to do is to answer the following questions:

1: What do you like about your job?

2: What do you dislike about the job?

3: What don’t you mind about your job?

Trust your gut
I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to convince myself that I was just experiencing “growing pains” associated with switching fields between grad school and postdoc… or that it was the steep learning curve of completely new, nontrivial methods. Both were true to an extent, but I also knew there was much more below the surface. As a postdoc, you have the experience of graduate school behind you. You know enough to realize when things aren’t quite what they should be.
THINK
Whatever you have written answer to those questions: THink of it why you have written these questions? Understand  what are tge reasons behind your likes and dislikes about your role, you can begin to think about the things that you might enjoy doing in another role.
Talk. “Find out what others have gone on to do and see whether or not the list of skills and things you enjoy doing would fit into that job,” says Hinxman. And don’t just apply this to familiar roles. Go out and speak to people who do all sorts of things to see how your skills might fit.
Research
If one of the conversations you had with friends and colleagues sparked an interest, follow it up with some extra research. Have a look at their company website; ask your friend to put you in contact with a manager there to organise an informational interview; look online to see if there are other companies that have similar roles.
Apply
Hinxman suggest you avoid using the Scattergun approach, where you apply for every job in sight. “It takes too much time and you need to tailor your application to each job,” says Hinxman. “You need to be picky and true to yourself: make sure the jobs you are applying for are those you actually want.”
Prepare
Once you’ve got a few interviews lined up, you will need to have examples of how you have used and developed various skills that they are looking for. We’ve talked about this before too: use story telling to explore and explain your transferable skills. Pick a skill from the job description; write down how you used it. This should include any challenges you over came and how they were over come. This approach can be used both to determine what your transferable skills are and how you can frame them for an interview.

However, frequently, graduate students venture into a postdoc out of a feeling of desperation for a job, resulting in a lack of inquiry about basic elements of the appointment and little or no negotiation for benefits. “When you’re finished with your Ph.D., people look into what postdocs they want,” confesses Jimmy Weterings, whose appointment took place at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and who is currently seeking an academic position. “There are some people, and I count myself among them, who will take anything—it’s a safety feeling. You finished your Ph.D., you know you will have income, but I didn’t think beyond the two years.”
Just take some time to think about what you enjoy, because if you pick something you enjoy, then it really doesn’t matter what road you take in life.