I received my PhD from Columbia in June of 1950 but my education scarcely stopped there... I did not really know much about how to do any serious research and writing, since my graduate education did not involve the personal supervision of research of the kind so familiar to graduate students today. I was neither forced nor encouraged to produce early in my graduate career a publishable paper nor to because acquainted with the "how-to-do-it" aspects of research. I was, however, full of energy and brimming over with ideas. I thrashed around for a few months but fortunately I soon became acquainted with J. C. C. McKinsey, a logician who had recently joined the Department of Philosophy at Stanford. McKinsey served as my postdoctoral tutor.---Patrick Suppes.
It is (sound) conventional wisdom that one's fellow students can be as (or more) important as one's supervisors in one's education. But reading Suppes' autobiography reminded me of a bit of wisdom that my supervisor, Dan Garber, handed down to me during a 'reality-check moment' as I was contemplating a crucial career decision: if one is lucky (and wise) one's most important intellectual and professional mentors may be encountered on the job early in one's career. Much has changed since Suppes went to Stanford (and even since I obtained my first position), but Garber's point still stands. In the discipline this wisdom is obliquely recognized when people say that 'such-and-such department has a great track record hiring young people'. (I heard this a lot about Syracuse before and after I went there, but I am not impartial in this matter.) The truth would be better expressed as 'such-and-such department does a stellar job tutoring and developing recent hires.'
This is just to say, 'thank you' to my postdoctoral tutors early in my career!