As a PhD student I was ridiculously well funded, as a bioinformatician I basically spent nothing, and yet was given the same amount to spend as those lab monkeys who had to spend it all on reagents. So I went to a lot of cool conferences!
The down side of all this money was that I never considered applying for external travel money. Now I’m a postdoc, I really wish I had.
- It looks great on your CV – someone thought you were good enough to spend money on.
- When you start applying for bigger grants e.g. fellowships and the like, one of the things they ask for is proof of independence. One of the best ways to prove independence is to have received money that’s just for you, not funnelled through your PI.
- If you don’t do it during your PhD, you may find the boat has sailed. Some places will still fund a postdoc (I’m in the process of applying for one from the European Conference on Computational Biology), but in general it’s much harder.
So in conclusion, I just want to say: If you’re a PhD student and aim to stay in Academia, apply for money. If you’re a postdoc, also apply for money, you just might find it a lot harder.