Kreiman:Howto Be a Postdoc

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AUTHORS: Calin Buia, Jed Singer et al
OCT 2010 TITLE: How to be a postdoc

Get in touch with Shilpa Seshadri ( many weeks
before starting. She'll send you a hefty packet of forms to be filled out (a few of them
don't apply, as you're not a clinician).

If you have earned your Ph.D. but not yet received your diploma (if, for example,
degrees are only granted in May and you defended in July), you will not actually get to
be a "Research Associate" but only a "Research Assistant" until the actual degree-
granting ceremony happens. Everything here assumes this is the case; if your degree-
granting institution is less restrictive about when they grant degrees, some of these
steps will be different (and probably easier).

Call Occupational Health to schedule an appointment for a TB test and immunization
screening: 857-218-3046. You'll also want to fax them your immunization record; they'll
give you a fax number and probably tell you to have the fax sent ATTN: whomever your
appointment is scheduled with. This likely will not be the person who ends up taking
care of you at your appointment, so make sure you remember the name of the other
person so they can get your records. This will happen on the second floor of 333

In order to be listed on the IRB-approved protocols, you need to pass the CITI course at - there's a long series of lessons followed by short
quizzes, that are sort of generic. After that, there's a link to a different site where you
read another passage and answer a few more questions. This other site requires
Internet Explorer, so find yourself a Windows machine. Make sure you "print" the two
certificates (one from CITI, one from the Children's-specific quiz) to PDF format; you'll
need to email them to Joanne O'Hara (JOHARA1@PARTNERS.ORG) so she can get
you onto the protocols.

Assuming your job appointment is just at Children's hospital, if you're going to be working
with patients at Brigham and Women's you will likely need to get yourself a
nominal appointment (as "sponsored staff") there as well. Joanna Galoski
( can help you with that. You'll need to go to a Partners
Orientation and get a Partners ID. You'll have to go to an orientation (2-2.5 hours), then
travel with your immunization records (from Children's Occupational Health, for
example) to BWH Occupational Health, and thence to their badge office. Once you have
this badge, Joanna Galoski can submit paperwork so you can get a Partners ID, which
you'll then need to send to Joanne O'Harra to put on the IRB approval. Make sure that
you activate the ID at (choose the link for if you don't have
an ID or password, put in all the requested information, and it will give you back your ID
and allow you to choose a password). You may also want a email address
- there's a mailing list for discussion of epilepsy patients at BWH, and it is restricted to email addresses.

Meanwhile, Shilpa will have given you an Identification Badge Requisition Form for
Associated Personnel. He'll also have another form to get you into the payroll system.
These will need to go to Human Resources, at 1 Autumn Street, to get signed.

The badge request form will definitely need to come with you to your appointment with
Occupational Health. Once they've passed you (which won't happen until after you pass
some TB tests, one of which will almost surely need to be administered here), you're
ready for your first badge. This will be blue, indicating that you're an employee at the
research assistant level.

Once your degree-granting institution has their degree-granting ceremony, you will swap
the blue badge for a purple badge, indicating that your position in life has improved to
research associate. Aside from the color of your badge, nothing should change.

You get your photo taken and badge made in a booth behind the reception of the
hospital proper. You'll get a little slip of paper to bring to the person in the booth from
someone in HR (1 Autumn Street) after you've passed all your medical stuff and
filled out enough forms.

To get your badge empowered to open doors and move elevators and such, you'll need to
talk to Caitlin Sawtelle, in the lobby of Karp. She'll have you fill out a form; this will
grant you late-night access to Karp. The Center for Life Science ("CLS") elevator access
requires your badge to be registered with the reception/security desk on the second
floor of the CLS. It may be necessary to wait until Caitlin's activation has gone through,
but otherwise don't let the folks at the CLS desk tell put you off. Unless processes have
changed from when I wrote this, they are the ones who need to activate your card for
the elevators, and it requires only a few seconds. You might also talk to Valerie in the
Enders lobby; I'm not sure if she can do anything extra for you that Caitlin can't, but I
gave her the ID number of a postdoc already in the lab and asked her to give me the
same access. Not sure what, if anything, that accomplished.

Some time before either the day that you start getting paid normally or the day after your
job listing closes (they were the same day for me) you will need to go back to Human
Resources to fill out a stack of forms. They contacted me; if they don't contact you, give
them a call a day or two in advance and make sure you don't miss anything.

You will also want a Harvard ID. This gets you access to libraries (certainly physical
holdings, and I think online holdings) and shuttles, among other things. Shilpa can
help you with this, also. She's great.

Yet another ID that you'll want is an eCommons ID. This lets you access the orchestra
computational cluster, and (if it's connected to a Harvard ID) is your ticket to
online library access. It is possible to get an eCommons ID before you get a Harvard ID, but
you'll then have to get a new eCommons ID after you get your Harvard ID (for library
access, at least) and supposedly there are sometimes problems with reconciling the
two. Unless you really need to use orchestra immediately, the consensus seems to be
to wait until you get your Harvard ID.

Once you've got your eCommons ID, go to to register for an orchestra account.

Meanwhile, the hospital has to list your job. There are five days during which others
could theoretically apply; in practice, I understand that somebody would have to be
more you than you are to get your job. So, good luck!

Point your web browser to "web2", and click on "Job Openings". If they post your job,
you may be able to find it by searching appropriately (e.g. for "ophthalmology"); if it
doesn't show up, they may ask you to upload your CV to the web site anyway, so that
they can move it in at some point.

Hopefully by the time you've set these processes in motion you have received your new
login ID. This probably looks like CH######. You'll need to register it and select a
password, which will activate your email and probably other things as well. Open up a
browser, and go to "web2". Somewhere in the middle of the page will be a link for "Help
Desk" Click it, then the Password Manager link at the top of the page. First, register,
then reset your password (it is initially blank; change it to a complex string of your
choosing. Note that it is possible to come up with a password that obeys all the posted
rules for password strength but is still not considered strong enough by their password
auditor - "HappyDog3" might be one example.)

The Kreiman lab server is named theory - you'll want an account here, as well. This can
be set up easily by someone who's already in the lab.

Call x44700 to get your voicemail password reset. Once that's done, you can hit the
"messages" button to (wait for it...) get your messages. This will also dump you into a
menu where you can change your recorded name and voicemail greeting. More at

There is a "new fellows orientation" that you may go to - here you'll sign up for insurance
and learn about other benefits. Mine was at 9 am at 1 Autumn Street, and lasted something like an hour.
You will find, upon receiving your employment offer, that this
was not the correct orientation (since you're not actually a fellow). Your offer letter will
inform you of the time and place of the "new staff orientation" that you have to go to; this
orientation will take six hours, and from what I've heard should be approached with a
Zen attitude and a good sense of humor.

Nikki Kupetz ( can sign you up for some
appropriate email list(s?).

If you want to be able to access your computer remotely, you'll need to get a little
secret-code-generating dongle to use with VPN. Justin can help you with this, as well,
but he may not have to - you can probably just call x5HELP.

I wanted a mailbox, so I spoke with the woman who was putting mail into other people's
mailboxes. Her name is Karen Cabellero. I had my own by the end of the day.

If you follow the MYR link off of web2, you will (eventually) have several online courses
to take. These are very easy - I don't actually know if anything happens if you don't do
them by the deadline, but it's no trouble at all just to do them.

Go to and sign up for the cbs list. Email Judy
at jrauch@MIT.EDU and ask to be put on the bcs-talks list.