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WOI Stammtisch: Career Workshop

On October 12, the first Stammtisch of the new academic year was held. This and the next few events will be focused on the Career. For the first meeting, we prepared two events: a photo shooting in the afternoon for those who want to update photo in CV and a Career Workshop in the evening. How to choose your own career path? How to understand what your priorities really are? How to analyze and learn from your past experience? These and many other questions were discussed at the first career seminar led by WOI founder Dr. Bettina Lehman. She shared with us her knowledge and tools from her MBA degree and work experience.


If you are a graduate student and are standing at the very beginning of your career, or you just feel like your life needs a change, where do you start?

1. Take a look at your career timeline

To move forward, you need to understand what really is a red flag for you and what you can handle in your career. The best way to understand this is to do a review of the past: what were the ups and downs for you during all those years of study and work? What made you happy/motivated/disappointed? Why? This exercise will help you stay mindful about your choices and learn from your experiences to figure out what your ideal position is.

Of course, almost no job or study consists of only good or only bad experiences. Most likely, for many graduate students, the timeline in these years is like a roller coaster. That’s why sometimes you have to go deeper to learn something new about yourself because a short superficial glance is not enough.

“There are always ups and downs, but it’s still important to look at them and use them as a tool.”

2. Define your core values

Work is one element of our lives, just like everything else: family, hobbies, health, etc. And it would be a mistake to view it independently of everything else and, most importantly, your own core values. This tool is not about circumstances, but about your own nature.

Assessing what your five core life values are can be a crucial step in finding your ideal job. What makes your life fulfilling? What makes you appreciate yourself and the people around you? When do you feel fulfilled and proud?

“When are you at your best?”

To make the exercise easier, you can have a list in front of you with different values to choose your own. You can always find help and inspiration online to make your list.



3. Evaluate your career move.

Choosing between two or more options can be difficult. And a list of pros and cons is not always the best option. Another tool Bettina shared with us is the Career Map.

As a first step, ask yourself what your ideal job criteria are. What kind of team you’d like to work on, what career opportunities you’d like to see, what would ensure your professional growth, what responsibilities you’d like to take on… Make a list of criteria and, when choosing between two jobs, whether you choose between academia and industry or between two different research groups, evaluate each option against those criteria independently from other options.

4.    Map out your vision.

Your dream career is, of course, not just what you want, but what you do. Once you know your priorities, passions, and the direction you want to go, it’s time to look at the other side: the opportunities and requirements for you. What skills do you need to make people believe you can do the job? Are there people who could share their knowledge and experience with you? If there is anything you can do to get one step closer to your dream job?

Sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re in your comfort zone or your stagnant zone. Sometimes the most important step is to step outside of what you are used to and do something new and perhaps uncomfortable. Start with something easy: have a cup of coffee with someone in a higher position and with more experience than you.

“There are always ups and downs, but it’s still important to look at them and use them as a tool.”

In the last part of the workshop, Bettina gave some tips on building a good resume and using LinkedIn as a tool in your career.

Finally, participants shared their concerns about their career path, inspiring us for future career workshops. What jobs can I look forward to after my Ph.D.? How do I negotiate with a potential/current employer? What is the best job search strategy?

The first Stammtisch after the summer break was a great start to the new academic year. Career is an acute topic for everyone, so we made this event inclusive and open to everyone in IBMI. And we had the first male participant! So we hope that there will be more IBMI male colleagues attending the next Stammtisch. We are grateful to WOI founder Dr. Bettina Lehman for organizing this workshop and to all participants for sharing their ideas for future WOI meetings. We look forward to seeing you at our next event!