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Guideposts for career planning

The CIBSS Career Days: Strike a path! provided support for early career researchers.

Within the framework of its Launchpad Programme, CIBSS invited PhDs and Postdocs from the life sciences to a two-day career event. During two interactive workshops and an event session with presentations and discussions by invited guests, the early career researchers had the chance to reflect upon their own career wishes, and benefited from personal insights into the diverse career paths within and outside of academia.

Early planning will allow a smoother transition to your next envisaged career step. Illustration: Michal Rössler /CIBSS

Over 50 early career researchers attended the event, which was open to Master students, PhDs and Postdocs from the University of Freiburg, the University Medical Center and the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunology and Epigenetics. The two booked-out workshops provided the attendees with self-empowering tools to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses, and with hands-on tips on how to successfully apply for industry jobs. “We got a lot of inside information that is otherwise hard to get”, says one participant after the workshop.


In three parallel sessions, invited professionals from academia, industry and further fields gave insights into their respective career paths, and shared their personal experiences after having started out from a PhD in the life sciences. Three CIBSS researchers shared their journeys towards becoming research group leaders, and discussed the challenges and chances that they encountered. “You get rejects, but it should not discourage you,” they emphasized. They added that none of them knew everything from the beginning, and that it is okay to keep learning along the way. In the “industry” session, a presenter with many years of experience in the industry shared insights into the different roles in large pharmaceutical companies, and young entrepreneurs spoke about how they turned their ideas into successful start-ups. In the third session, “beyond academy and industry”, the common topic was communication. The speakers from consulting, the editorial office of a high-impact scientific journal, and the CIBSS science communicator gave examples for careers outside of scientific research, in which they still profit from the skills and knowledge they gained as scientists.


After the sessions, the participants and invited guests had time for discussions and networking over small snacks and drinks. “I am very happy to hear that so many attendees have benefited a lot from the workshops and events,” says Dengfeng Huang, who organized the event and coordinates the CIBSS Launchpad Programme. Prof. Dr. Wilfried Weber, member of the CIBSS speaker team, is also convinced that events like this are important for providing orientation: "Thanks to the information they received at the Career Days, participants can now systematically prepare for a career that matches their interests.” The next career event, planned for 2023, will follow a similar format, combining workshop and event sessions.


Full 2022 event programme:


More information on the CIBSS Launchpad Programme: