Academic Careers: Mentors Offer Support for Post-Docs

28.05.2014

How to map out and pursue a career in the sciences? And is that really my aim? These questions are at the heart of the new Mentoring Program, which was officially launched last Tuesday at the Cluster of Excellence. The kick-off event was the first opportunity for mentors and their mentees to meet. In her opening remarks the deep-sea researcher and geomicrobiologist Prof. Antje Boetius from the University of Bremen talked about the extent to which academic careers can be planned, and which pitfalls young academics should do their best to avoid.

"Only a few can be winners." Prof. Antje Boetius shows how Post-Docs can increase their chances.
Individual exchange between mentors and mentees.

Every year, there are 2,000 openings at academic departments throughout Germany – and roughly 100,000 potential candidates. Who actually gets one of the much-sought-after positions depends on different factors – above all on the number and quality of their publications, the level of their international experience, but also on their networks and to some extend on good luck. “Trying to become a professor is a high-risk career,” claimed Prof. Antje Boetius at Tuesday’s kick-off event for the CliSAP Mentoring Program. But in her talk Boetius, a recipient of the Leibniz Prize and Chairwoman of the Scientific Commission, also sought to encourage young researchers, advising all doctoral and postdoctoral candidates to “overcome convenience, give your good luck a chance and listen to the recommendations of your older colleagues,” as they are normally glad to share their wisdom, e.g. when it comes to improving soft skills or compensating gaps in academic CV´s. She went on to emphasize that the phase following the PhD, in which academics are expected to move farther away from their advisor, is especially important: “Have the courage to explore new subjects, learn new methods, and try to form connections with institutions you haven’t yet worked with.”

Once Boetius had finished, the mentors and mentees came together for talks, discussing critical milestones in academic careers, individual considerations and how the respective career phases can be planned. From now on, the mentors and mentees will meet on a regular basis. These talks will be supplemented by an annual meeting of all participants and several networking meetings exclusively for the mentees.

Further information

Website of the Mentoring-Program