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Inspiring collection of post-PhDs career trajectories outside academy

February 7th, 2017

Inge van der Weijden (CWTS), Evan de Gelder (CWTS), Christine Teelken (VU Amsterdam) and Marian Thunnissen (Fontys) show that the gap between the academic versus public/private sector is smaller than expected. The work is now published on phdcentre.eu and will be discussed in an Inspiration meeting 24 March. 

The gap between working in the academic versus public/private sector appears to be smaller than expected.

The amount of PhD graduates at Dutch university doubled since 2000. For 68% of the PhDs there is, sometimes after temporary contracts, no employment at a Dutch or foreign university. They continue their careers outside academy working in education, business or the semi-(public) sector.

The career opportunities and terms of employment are more favourable outside academy than inside academy, as research has already shown. In spite of this, reportings on careers of PhDs are too often one-sided. Over and over is emphasized that only 30% of the PhDs can stay in academy and that young scientists are uncertain about the continuation of their employment. It is time to change the perspective by starting to look outside.

Inge van der Weijden (CWTS), Evan de Gelder (CWTS), Christine Teelken (VU Amsterdam) and Marian Thunnissen (Fontys) have done a lot of research on scientific careers and talent development and utilization inside universities. This time they examined the careers of PhDs and postdocs who opted for a job outside university. Their research reveals that the assumed gap between academic versus public/private sector is smaller than expected. This research shakes up some taken-for-granted assumptions.

The researchers show that the grass outside academia is in fact just as green as it is inside academia. Both inside and outside academy there are attractive and challenging jobs, where PhDs can add substantial value by using the skills they developed earlier.

Inspiring collection

From their research, the authors selected 10 PhDs to tell their story about their career trajectories in and outside academy. These stories are brought together in a digital collection to inspire (young) scientists and provide them with insight in the diversity of career options.

In the interviews the PhDs look back on their academic career and their switch and they share their experiences and satisfaction with their job outside academy. They focus on challenges and transferable skills – skills learned inside universities which are transferable to the world outside. Those 10 interviews are complemented by 3 personal stories of employers who share their experiences with PhDs at their workplace. This is a unique adding to this publication, as far as we know this is the first time that experiences from non-academic employers with PhDs are highlighted.

From now on this publication is downloadable free via: http://www.phdcentre.eu/nl/praktijk/portretten.html. This publication is in Dutch, we are looking for funding to be able to make an English translation available.

Inspiration meeting

On March 24 2017 (15:00-16.30) the researchers host an inspiration meeting to discuss their research and (the implications of) their publication. Among others, HR university departments, union representatives, PhD- and postdoc networks are invited to brainstorm and discuss the recommendations from the publication.

Participating in the inspiration meeting is free of charge. As long as there are seats available, you can sign up at: https://goo.gl/forms/ZP9ymM2OS3nzkAff1. The inspiration meeting will be in Dutch.

This meeting is open to journalists as well, they will receive details about the location when they sign up by sending an email to Evan de Gelder: e.de.gelder@cwts.leidenuniv.nl.

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