Just Do It


In summary, the three steps to job success in astronomy (with apologies to Nike) are:

1.Research it.

2.Publish it.

3.Talk about it.

Repeat steps 1 to 3 several times a year, and a long career in professional astronomy
awaits you. In the process, if you discover something significant and become famous,
then so much the better. Don’t forget to network, always keep the big picture in mind,
and enjoy yourself.

This article is based on discussions with PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and
senior colleagues I have worked with over the years, particularly in the US, UK, and
Australia. I hope it sheds some light on the process of landing a job in astronomy and
is useful to anyone seeking a long-term research career in astronomy.

Duncan Forbes certainly made some mistakes when in the astronomy job market, but
he survived and is now a Professor at Swinburne University in Australia, after a
Lectureship in the UK and a postdoc position in the US. His research interests
include globular clusters and galaxy formation. He thanks everyone who has
contributed to the discussions that helped crystallize this article. He particularly
thanks Anna Russell, Alister Graham, Frazer Pearce, and Jay Strader for their input.
This article was written under cloudy skies at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.