In many fields, it is common practice to apply for a position as a postdoctoral fellow after receiving a Ph.D. in order to more firmly establish a program of research before pursuing a job in academia or industry. This is particularly true of the sciences, although recently there have been more and more postdoctoral positions created in the humanities and social sciences as well. In some postdoctoral fellowships, not only are you expected to focus on research and publishing, but you also are expected to mentor graduate and undergraduate students. Depending on the postdoctoral fellowship, you might also be expected to teach.
It can sometimes be difficult navigating a postdoctoral position because your status is neither that of a graduate student nor a tenure-track faculty member. You are somewhere between these roles, although you will often be asked to take on responsibilities that closely mirror those of a faculty member. All postdoctoral fellows at Mason are welcome to take advantage of the Stearns Center’s professional development opportunities.
Here is Mason’s official policy on Postdoctoral Research Fellows, which details the requirements and expectations of postdoctoral fellows.
A comprehensive and important site: http://www.minoritypostdoc.org/
A very helpful list from phds.org: http://www.phds.org/postdoc/choosing-a-postdoctoral-position/