In mid-April at the MDC.C, around 200 PhD students, postdocs and Master's students took the chance to discuss their professional development with external experts, as well as with each other. There are a multitude of paths open to young scientists. Besides the classic academic career in research institutions or at universities, careers in industry research or the wider pharma sector beckon. Founding your own start-up company might be an option. Or developing an exciting career in science management or science communication.
“Career paths are rarely straightforward,” said Keely Bumsted O'Brien from Melbourne in her keynote speech. She is a former group leader and now Head of Scientific Education at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Alongside Chiara Romagnani, Professor at the Charité in Berlin and at the German Rheumatism Research Centre, Dr. Bumsted O'Brien also recounted her own professional development. Her advice: “Take the time to think about what you really enjoy. Realise that it's OK to change your mind, it's OK to change your path and it's critical to be doing what you love. Opportunities whether they are presented or created, are there to be embraced.”
Many researchers embrace the offer to get their CVs checked by experts. This CV check has become a fixture of the Career Day. “Especially the different design requirements for academic versus industry CVs is challenging for scientists. For this reason, we have invited Dr. Cathrin Enke, an expert from one of the big pharma companies, to help our researchers adapt their CVs for applications to industry positions,” said Sandra Krull, Head of the MDC Postdoc Office. Equally helpful for many participants were the networking round tables, where they had the chance to get first-hand information from invited experts on career options in different areas, like science management, scientific publishing, entrepreneurship and academia.
Other invited experts were attracting avid attention by giving presentations on funding options (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Marie Curie, Charité Stiftung).
Two brand-new workshops delivered by companies were offered this year, covering the topics “Designing a Clinical Trial” and “Job Profiles in Clinical Research”. They were met with considerable enthusiasm and booked out immediately. Gustaaf Heynen, one of the participants, said: “The Parexel workshop about how clinical research is structured and what kind of positions are available for scientists in this field was very helpful. Parexel offers programs that prepare postgraduate scientists to join clinical research industry. As a life science scientist, these programs seem very much worthwhile to be considered as a next career move, if one is interested in clinical research."