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.