The Arqus PhD Week for careers outside academia: Starting up new careers

Photo of the participants in the PhD Week.

A PhD offers a broader variety of career opportunities than just the classic academic path. PhD graduates have not only acquired a high level of expertise in their field of research, but also the ability for creative, critical, efficient, and target-oriented problem solving and project leadership. The Arqus PhD Week for Careers outside Academia aimed to combine these skills with an intra- and entrepreneurial spirit.

The Arqus PhD Week for Careers outside Academia took place from 13th to 15th October 2021 in the newly built UNICORN premises in Graz and offered numerous training and networking opportunities to almost 50 participants from all Arqus partners universities. A train-the-trainer workshop prepared career and doctoral education experts from the Alliance with a toolbox to design courses on career paths outside academia at their home universities. A series of meetings with successful start-up founders gave pre- and postdocs an insight into the practical and ethical aspects of running a business.

The two participating groups – professionals and pre-and postdoctoral researchers – joined forces for two highly intensive workshop days. The experts Marie Eyquem, Smita Mohanty, and Valentin Joannet from the Arqus partner university in Lyon provided skills-mapping exercises and a fast-paced creativity workshop. Participants were required to pitch ideas at the end of the day and were given “Knights and Dragons” style feedback.

Neha Chatwani, an internationally renowned organizational psychologist and founder of the “Workplace Atelier” in Vienna, worked with the participants on designing portable careers. Participants used exercises to foster self-awareness about strengths, goals and opportunities and practised pitches about their profile. Expert round tables provided differentiated perspectives on job search strategies, international application documents, interview questions, dual-career options, and resilience in the face of setbacks.

At a career dinner in the foyer of the new university library, the participants met representatives of Graz-based employers and start-ups. The dinner was opened by the Rector of the University of Graz, Martin Polaschek, and sponsored by the City of Graz, represented by City Councillor Daisy Kopera.

As a collaboration of Arqus Action Line 5 Entrepreneurial University and Regional Engagement and Action Line 6 Research Support and Early Stage Researcher Development, the Arqus PhD Week for Careers outside Academy demonstrated impressively the benefits of an Alliance in creating highly innovative international offers for the participating partner universities.

Original news prepared by Gerald Lind, Johanna Stadlbauer, Anja Hoffmann.