- Parent Category: Activities
- Published on Monday, 25 November 2013 11:54
Wolter de Graaf, Biomedical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology
Participant STEM 2013
'As a postdoc in Biomedical Engineering I participated in the PCDI Postdoc Retreat because I was in doubt whether I would like to develop my career in industry or academia. Listening to the stories of other people about their career path, their drives to follow one path and not the other seemed to me highly interesting to make up my own mind. And it did! A number of talented speakers with very different but interesting stories were invited. Lively discussions allowed everybody to ask questions and get honest answers. In between talks and other program parts like lunches and workshops, the participants learnt from each other about their background and reasons to join.
Next to the talks and presentations a number of workshops were there to improve some skills regarding the way you see yourself and how to know what you want, but also about how to present that to others. For some of us, including myself, there were some real eye-openers in a workshop on non-verbal behavior. This three day retreat made sure that normal work activities were abandoned to focus completely on finding out what you would like for yourself.
After the retreat I travelled home with two other participants and by far the hours long train ride was not enough to contemplate on all the new insights we gained. My personal conclusion from these days were that too much planning of a career will not work and that opportunities will come. Important is then to know which of them to grab and also not to be afraid of career changes into non-standard directions.'
Stephanie Domptai, Institute for agricultural policy and market research, University of Giessen, Germany
Participant STEM 2013
'At first, I couldn't really understand why so many presenters had been invited just to talk about their curricula and life/career development. In the end, however, I think that it is from those very interventions from people like you and I that I learned the three most important messages from my point of view: that basically, you have to be true to yourself and know yourself to make the decisions that are right for you. Second, that there is nothing wrong with following the flow as long as you get what you want and need and enjoy it. And third, there is no need to be afraid to try out things outside academia, as long as you don't wait to long for your decisions.
I really enjoyed the retreat and its nice atmosphere and fantastic foods and met many very interesting people with completely different backgrounds, all friendly and looking for answers to the same questions I was. I particularly liked the communication workshop which I attended, where I found out which communication style I prefer and how I may improve my communication with others, which is something very important for my current as a scientific coordinator. I hope to use this insight to increase the pleasure and efficiency of working together with the team.
After the retreat, I talked about some of the workshops and we intend to organise one of the workshops in our working group for my colleagues. I still need to take some time to think about myself and make some decisions, but it seems to me that I know a bit better which questions I should ask myself now. I am also more positive and calm, as the retreat could remind me that there is more than one suitable path for me. I hope to set up my priorities soon and we'll see in 2 years time where that has taken me!'
Francesca Solmi, Center for Statistics, Hasselt University
Participant STEM 2013
'As a postdoc in statistics at the University of Hasselt (Belgium), I participated in the PCDI Postdoc Retreat because I wanted to take some time for myself and to think about what I really want from my future. What attracted me the most was the presence of workshops on topics that were related to self-evaluation and communication skills.The first impression when I arrived at the retreat was great. There were many other young people there, and the atmosphere seemed immediately relaxed and challenging at the same time.I found the course to be well structured and focused on us, the participants.
Besides the workshops, also during talks by invited speakers, we were always given the possibility of interacting with each other and with the organizers/guests/speakers. I found this a positive aspect. I surely liked the workshops part best. Even though the time for each workshop was limited, I had the feeling that we always managed to get the best out of every specific session. Moreover, I found very interesting to share experiences and listen to ideas and comments about the dualism industry versus academia.
After the retreat I went home with a clear plan for the very near future in my mind. I can say that these three days helped me understanding what I want now from my (not only) professional life. Now I have an action plan for the coming months which hopefully, with a bit of good luck, I’ll manage to pursue. The most valuable thing I got from this retreat is the confirmation of the fact that, to do something with your career, it is very important to have well defined short term objectives and the self-confidence to know that you can get there.'
|Did you also participate in the PCDI Postdoc Retreat for STEM and do you want to add your story to our website?
"I was approached for the function of programme committee member by the Executive Board of the Univ. of Twente, who thought that it was ‘just my thing’. I found the PCDI Postdoc Retreat in a category quite of its own, neither a scientific conference nor a skills-training in the usual sense. It was nice that the programme varied between inspiring presentations and workshops. It had been put together with care, not one minute was spilled. Moreover, I feel that the course has been really useful for the participants and that it has helped them to think about their future, either in academia or outside of it, which came back in the feedback I received from them at the end of the programme.
For me it was well illustrated during the retreat how important it is to have an active mindset and shape your own professional development. The speakers all made this very clear. At the Postdoc Retreat not the content of science mattered, but the broader development of the scientist. It was great to see that such prominent people as Bert Meijer, Wim van Saarloos, Margriet Nip, Miriam Luizink, Vinod Subramaniam and Jos Benschop amongst others found the programme so important that they had scheduled in time to contribute to it. The programme was so strong that it’s actually a pity that only such a small percentage of PhDs and Postdocs were able to participate in it"
Hans Hilgenkamp, Professor of Physics MESA+ Unversity of Twente
Programme committee STEM 2013
"I signed up as a programme committee member after I had heard good things about the PCDI Postdoc Retreat from my predecessor Niek Lopes Cardozo. His opinion regarding the use of the retreat convinced me to get involved. The format of the retreat reminded me of a course at Nyenrode Business University I once participated in, but is more personal. It is useful to participate in a course that broadens your perspective and gives insights into your own functioning. Often early researchers do not take time for this. We all have busy agenda’s, but you need to realize that when something is important, you need to make time for it. And mostly when you take some time away, you get a lot of new ideas. So it’s not a question of time, but of priority.
What struck me from the beginning was the open atmosphere at the retreat. No-one was afraid to give their opinion. Moreover, communication was two-directional, so that both the invited speakers and the participants could learn from each other’s insights. And I’ve also learned something myself. I now have a far better idea of what is on the mind of today’s postdocs, for example on the topic of publication pressure and the tenure track"