Inspiring discussions and networking during "Career after your PhD". Photograph: Marta Mayer/DESY

Career after your PhD: Academia, business, industry or science management?

A two-day career fair for 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from DESY and the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences of Hamburg University was dedicated to different career paths of scientists after their doctoral studies.

After a morning session with keynote talks, the participants were introduced to 14 representatives of industry, academia, business and science management with whom the attendees were invited to discuss their most important questions regarding career options and opportunities.

The event was jointly organized by the graduate schools PIER Helmholtz Graduate School, Center for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI), International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling (IMPRS-ESM), International Max Planck Research School for Ultrafast Imaging & Structural Dynamics (IMPRS-UFAST), MIN Graduate School, and School of Integrated Climate System Sciences (SICSS). It took place on the DESY campus in Bahrenfeld.

In the morning session, which was dedicated to three keynote talks on “Career paths of scientists”, Dr. Bernd Martens of the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) pointed out that non-academic careers are the rule rather than the exception among former PhD students. In natural sciences, less than half of the graduates are still doing academic work two years after graduation. However, Dr. Martens advised the participants to choose their first employment very carefully, since the drawbacks of underqualified work can have a lasting influence on one’s career.

Dr. Axel Lindner talked about his career path as particle physicist and former science manager at DESY. He initially concentrated on data analysis and detector development, later he switched to astroparticle physics, where he focused on the investigation of "air showers" caused by high-energy cosmic radiation. As a science manager, Axel took over the coordination of the research funding of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the fields of particle and astroparticle physics. He then managed the directorate office at DESY and developed it into a staff unit with strategic responsibilities. In parallel, Axel has pushed for novel particle physics experiments: He led the ALPS I experiment (2007-2010), is currently spokesman for the ALPS II collaboration, whose experiment is currently being developed at DESY, and is also involved in the planned IAXO axion solar telescope and the dark matter experiment MADMAX.

Dr. Linda Jauch highlighted her difficulties to find a suitable position as a higher education manager in Germany, albeit being a German national, coming from outside the German academic system.  After completing her entire higher education in the UK (London, Oxford, Cambridge), she decided for a career in higher education management and started as administrator for Cambridge’s Judge Business School. Moving to Germany she held various positions at Freie Universität Berlin, focussing more and more on early career researchers. From 2014 to 2018 she managed the Graduate Academy of the Universität of Oldenburg and also served as assistant to the vice president for early career researchers.

In the afternoon round table sessions, the speakers revealed diverse ways into academia, science administration and management, industry and business. The participants were provided a unique insight into the work routine and received concrete tips about how to best contact a firm and what the differences between a family business and a public or a DAX-listed company are.

On day two, the particants had the chance to join one of five workshops on general career orientation, carreer opportunities in industry and academia, entrepreneurship, and a C.V. check.

More information on the programme

Icon Programme Flyer (349KB)

Some impressions from "Career after your PhD" on 4-5 April 2019

Photographs: Marta Mayer/DESY