Life „post-Postdoc“: Reflections on career possibilities

Post in: German


Once a year, the Ruhr-Universität Bochum hosts a summer evening for post-docs from Bochum, TU Dortmund, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. This year I was invited to speak about „Life „post-Postdoc“: Reflections on career possibilities inside and outside the Academy, inside and outside of Germany.“ I told the 60 post docs, for years you’ve been working hard on your studies, your dissertation, and now your postdoc. Sometimes the world has seemed terribly narrow, bounded by the confines and time constraints of your projects and commitments. But actually, your world is about to open up! After the post-doc, career pathways widen again and possibilities abound. We’ll talk about those possibilities, their pros and cons, and how to assess which may be right for you. Let’s transcend boundaries together. We did a self-coaching and I told stories from my own experience to illustrate points. I am convinced there is no „one size fits all“ prescription for the perfect science career, or for any life for that matter.  I am reminded over and over again that the best pathway is the one that comes from considering and creating options out of a person’s own unique perspective and authenticity.

The post-docs told me afterwards that they rarely hear about possibilities outside of universities aside from the pathway to being a professor, so they felt inspired and encouraged, which is the intent. Even if they choose a professorship pathway, that choice should be really a choice, not a default.  These are the best and brightest, and they have every right to feel the world of possibilities open to them.

I was impressed with the openness, courage, and friendliness of this group. We spent several hours after the talk chatting in the garden outside the conference center, covering work, family, relocations, power structures, time use, and identity.  Amazing discussions.

I am including a selection of my slides here in the hopes that they might help others considering their science career directions, too.
2013-06-10 Life-post-Postdoc-Hofmeister.pdf

One Comment

  1. Astrid Wichmann
    Jul 05, 2013

    Dear Heather, I agree, it was an extremely inspiring evening. For a moment we took the time to step out of the daily teaching, writing and coordinating routine to make up our minds about what to do with our lifes. We should do this more often. Thanks for your wonderful talk and hanging out with you and the other cool post-docs.

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