Popular exit course for doctoral students

14 januari 2020

To research or not to research – that is the question many doctoral students ask themselves as the end of the studies approaches. The exit course for doctoral students at the Evolutionary Biology Centre in November gave some tips ahead of the crossroads.

The course "Exit from postgraduate studies" was arranged by the Department of Organismal Biology, but gathered a large number of doctoral students from across the faculty. The goal of the course was to prepare the doctoral students for life after graduating and provide them with information on administrative processes and career options inside and outside academia. The five course days featured presentations from a variety of areas. Among the speakers were both researchers and alumni as well as presenters from companies, recruiters for industry and trade unions.

One of the 58 registered course participants was Arve Gengelbach, doctoral student at the Department of Information Technology. He had barely a year of study left and hoped to get advice and ideas for the future. Something he thought the course had provided.

"We got advice on how to apply for post doc positions and also met alumni telling us about their job experiences after their dissertation. But it's a slow process to figure out what you want.”

The ultimate recipe for helping newly graduates can be difficult to identify. But fellow student Maike Petzel thought the course could have included a longer-term perspective.

"I would love to know where my studies can take me in the longer term. For example, what does the career path look like after post doc, both within academia up to professorial level and in industry and at national labs.”

However, both considered the course to be rewarding as they had made contact with other doctoral students and alumni. At the same time, there was the opportunity to meet people from different professions. One area that had captured their interest was research communication.

"The presenter from Notch Communications, Kate Whelan, was working on tasks more geared towards advertisement, but it was still an eye opener and an interesting idea," said Maike Petzel.

Tips on mentoring programme

The course ended with a panel discussion and question time with previous doctoral students where some continued to conduct research while others were employed outside academia. One of the panelists, Bioinformatician Nima Rafati from SciLifeLab/NBIS, recommended the doctoral students to register for Mentor4Research. UU Innovation's mentoring programme offers doctoral students and researchers at Uppsala University help from business-oriented mentors to broaden their networks and learn about the commercial potential of their research.

"Mentor4Research helped me gain a better understanding of what is going on outside the academy," said Nima Rafati.

From left: Maja Garde Lindholm, Coordinator, Faculty of Science and Technology; Lucie Gattepaille, Data Scientist, Uppsala Monitoring Center; Tapati Sarkar, Research Assistant, Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Nima Rafati,  Bioinformatician, SciLifeLab/NBIS; Torsten Günther, Researcher in Population Genomics, Department of Organismal Biology. 

Course coordinator Torsten Günther was pleased with the course week but aimed to broaden the content until next edition.

“The course put a lot of weight on non-academic careers as the students are meeting people who have followed an academic career path at the university every day. We have received some constructive feedback and good suggestions for improving the course. So we’ll try to consider those suggestions for the next edition this coming fall.”


Read on: “Exit course from postgraduate studies” 2020 and other faculty common course 2020.

Links from the 2019 year program of the exit course for doctoral students: 
PhDs: the tortuous truth
Where Will A Biology PhD Take You?