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As an international student in the united states, I am legally allowed to work for 12 months, extendable to 29months for STEM fields, after graduating with my PhD (or masters degree for that matter) without having to change my visa/student status.

Now, I am looking for post doc opportunities in the US at several univerities but unfortunately none of the PI's respond to any queries OR application material that I send them for opportunities advertised on their websites.

I am seriously considering working voluntarily, without pay for my current advisor after I graduate in Dec 2012 with my PhD in Mechanical Engineering.

  1. I am legally allowed voluntarily as part of the optional practical training period available to me after graduation.
  2. I intend on doing my post doc / work pro-bono in the US because, lets face it, my home country doesn't really do much research and the pay grades are about $140 a month for fresh PhD graduates whilst I earn several times more as a grad student here in the US.
  3. Visa regulations make it horrendously difficult to move to an other country for post doc opportunities and it is easier for me to continue in the US as I am alreadly legally here.
  4. I am planning on writing a couple of proposals with my advisor so that I may grow my own post doc
  5. It is an absolute pleasure working for my advisor and I wouldn't mind doing it for free for the mental stimulation that it provides (although I wouldn't want to work for free forever teeheehee :P)

How should I approach this situation? I am planning on requesting him to retain me on a pro-bono thingy as I genuinely like the direction my research has taken since I signed up with him 3 years ago!

Has anyone else encountered such a quandary?

1 Answer 1

Why not just bring up the idea of staying in your current lab with your advisor? Without mentioning money straight off the bat?

If your advisor claims it's not possible to keep you around due to funding, then you can mention that you would be willing to do it without payment. And if you are willing to do it for free — and if you're already trained and have a good relationship — I can't imagine she/he would say no.

On the other hand, keep pursuing other options. If you work out something else, neither your advisor nor anyone else is going have hard feelings (or any sense of shock or surprise) if you leave for gainful employment.