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đź“ş PostDoc Day 2019: Exchanging knowledge and career tips

After successfully obtaining their PhD, many scientists face uncertainty about their professional future. This year’s PostDoc Day was held in Berlin’s Mitte district, and enabled colleagues to provide valuable tips and ideas.

In early June, the MDC’s new research building in central Berlin was a hive of activity as young scientists met for the fourth PostDoc Day. This time, organizers from the Postdoc Association of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) welcomed participants to a new location in Hannoversche Strasse.

Some 80 postdoc and PhD students from 11 institutes based in Berlin and Brandenburg used this opportunity to exchange professional knowledge and help each other with their career planning. In addition to representatives from the MDC and FMP, the event also involved members of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Charité, the Institute of Biochemistry at Freie Universität Berlin, and the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries.

Postdocs present their research in talks, workshops, and poster sessions

“A fantastic event of interactive workshops, inspiring lectures, and enlightening discussions,” summarized Professor Nenad Ban of ETH Zurich. In his keynote talk, Ban presented his research into the functions and structure of ribosomes. The poster session that took place on the third floor was also very popular. Here, 30 research groups presented their projects before discussing their approaches further out on the roof terrace.

Dr. Sandra Krull, head of the MDC Postdoc Office that was established at the beginning of 2018, considers networking events such as these to be particularly valuable. “We want to offer postdocs very targeted career support,” she explains. “Here, they have the opportunity to meet colleagues from other fields and to exchange ideas on a scientific level – this is often how collaborations develop.” She explains that, though there are a lot of structured graduate programs, comparatively little has been set up for postdoctoral researchers. “And yet this is an important group within the field of science that really needs our support and guidance,” says Krull.

Keynote speaker Nenad Ban on the job search: “It helps to hear others’ experiences”

Keynote speaker Ban knows just how challenging the search for a suitable position after completing one’s doctorate can be: “Finding a job can be stressful. It helps to hear others’ experiences – to learn how they carved out their career path and what strategies they employed,” advises the 53-year-old structural and molecular biologist. He explains that he himself had an idea of his career plans quite early on, and then contacted scientists who had already achieved similarly ambitious goals.

Another PostDoc Day is already planned for next year. The goals are clear: “This day is an event by postdocs for postdocs,” says Dr. Jean-Yves Tano from the MDC Postdoc Association. “Next year, we want to offer even more workshops, invite even more interesting guests, and hopefully welcome even more students.”
 

Text: Felix Petermann