Your authentic life Post-Postdoc. Questions to ask yourself

Post in: German

What can you do after a Post-Doc? Or after a doctoral degree? Universities and science workplaces speak too little about the many options available after academic work. These places have an interest in keeping their best and brightest to themselves. One can get the impression that the only option is a professorship, leading to great frustration and anxiety when professorships are few and far between. But even if the option is open, a strictly academic career pathway is not always in the interest of the individuals or their families and dreams! Not everyone is keen on teaching or grant-writing. Sometimes we’re bound to people, places, or pathways as part of our best futures. And that’s okay. There are many pathways for a fascinating career and a brilliant life after the postdoc.

HeRA Werkstatt at the University of Düsseldorf hosted me on Thursday, January 19 to speak to Post-Docs from all over the university about finding unique pathways with a science degree. We asked ourselves, What’s our authentic life? Does the academic career ladder fit in that life? A set of questions for framing up preferences, competencies, and ideal futures let us explore the possibilities and feel hopeful about for future. I offered a combination of sociological research-backed evidence about the labor market and a bit of guided questioning in a group setting to ask new questions that may lead to some new places. Feedback afterwards included that it was helpful to take time to talk about and think about options and wishes. One participant commented that sacrifices for family may compromise career options, to which I said that it’s about the total picture, what kind of life, and with whom, and where, is all your effort going towards?  It’s important not to think about these areas in isolation, but rather in connection. 

I started out asking, What does your ideal workday look like, 5 years from now?

A second question: Imagine you’re at the end of your life, and you decide your life was a success. What was it that made your life a success?

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