What participants say

PCDI course Employability Outside Academia is running since 2013. Read here how participants look back at the course.

Jovanka Bestebroer - assistant professor at UMCU

I signed up for the PCDI Employability Outside Academia course to get insight in the added value of a PhD when considering jobs outside academia, but the course has given me insights into many more questions!

I was in doubt about my career plan and a thorough reflection of my desires was required. At the course it quickly became clear that a job outside academia was the way to go for me, and the course helped me make a concrete action plan of the steps on how to proceed.

The personality analysis was helpful in assessing what type of person I am and what type of work and environment I would most benefit from. This has not only helped me in identifying suitable jobs but also in articulating my strengths and weaknesses. The course and networking assignments made me realize how many job opportunities exist in and around the academic setting in which you can apply the skills acquired during your PhD/postdoctoral training.

Although the course may be useful for those who are only considering about a transition outside academia and doubting their academic career, I think the course is most valuable if you have already made the decision to make the transition. The course is packed with concrete exercises on how to tackle that problem. Those who decide to stay in the academia after all, would benefit from having a clearer definition of the tasks you enjoy most in your work (and would like to do more), and identifying skill gaps you could work on. Either way, the course supported me to make a solid career development plan. Thanks PCDI!

Bart van Oort - Senior postdoctoral researcher at VU University Amsterdam

I am considering a job outside academia. At the course I hoped to find further confirmation of this choice, and to learn how to do so successfully. The Employability Outside Academia course helped me to get a structured view of the types of job opportunities; for example as non-scientist in academia, as researcher outside academia, but also options less related to my current position. In this way it helped and encouraged me to broaden my view.

Despite my low expectations, I learnt a lot from the personality test. The outcome was made concrete, by combining the resulting personality profile with job-related traits. For example, it suggested work environments in which I would thrive or wither, showing potential pitfalls. I feel supported by this test to select suitable jobs, and to phrase my motivation for such jobs. Moreover, discussing the test result with my supervisor and colleagues yielded insights that I could immediately apply in daily work.

The course further proved useful in getting a clearer view of my desires/demands and priorities in life and work, realizing how these had changed in time. Talking with fellow participants ‘colleagues’ in similar positions was stimulating. After the course I am confident that good jobs for me can be found both inside and outside of academia. In addition, I now feel both better equipped to search of positions outside academia, and to define which demands would have to be met for me to stay in academia.


Inka Pawlitzky - Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at NKI-AVL

When I signed up I already knew that a career in academia was not my goal. During my postdoc I took advantage of various classes to expand my profile but unfortunately these were fitted for academic positions. Participating in a dedicated 'Employability outside academia' course gave me confidence in my skills and aspirations beyond being a good scientist.

The days of the course are intense - you are being pushed to step outside your comfort zone, analyze your strength and weaknesses, determine what ultimately matters to you in your career and what inspires you - always interacting and communicating with your class mates. I was surprised how much my personality profile helped me. On the one hand in realizing career skills that I already poses but never thought of or talked about and on the other hand in having clear points of where I can improve. As this course teaches self-awareness is needed to make a career choice but is also highly valued in industry. Especially insightful for me is to understand the gap between industry and academia demands. I can now emphasize my experiences beyond the bench in addition to my scientific knowledge.

Even though, by the end of the 3 days I might not know the exact position I am aiming for, I do feel in control of my career. I feel prepared for the next step, and actually prepared for the next two steps to take in order to find a meaningful and challenging position outside academia. As a last point I want to mention how incredible helpful it was to interact with peers who are in the same position as I am – everybody had their own contribution to make this course a success. In the end the course is almost like a ‘science experiment’ - you analyze what you have, you understand where you want to go and now you have tools to get you there. Thank you PCDI for making this course happen.


Reuben Smith - PhD candidate at SILS, University of Amsterdam

The PCDI course ‘Employability outside academia’ is a definite must for researchers early in their career who want to make the transition to working outside the university setting. I have definitely benefitted from PCDI’s hands-on and inspiring approach to managing my career; something I believe is presently not acknowledged enough in academia.

The course started with an in depth self-reflection and many personal- and professional development tools were presented. This explorative approach ensured that I became conscious of my strengths and areas for improvement. Most importantly, I was made aware of my added value as a researcher for employers outside academia. Based on this new understanding, energetic and experienced speakers, who have successfully made the move from academia to the industry, showed me possible career paths and how I could meet the demands of future employers. Additionally, through a brief practice in interview techniques and presentation skills, I came to grips with how to present myself to the world outside academia. I was especially impressed by the attention that was given to developing and implementing my network. This gave me the opportunity to really start governing my career and has broadened my horizon to possibilities in the industry. The PCDI course ‘Employability outside academia’ has empowered me to take the next step in my career and has prepared me for the transition to the job-market outside academia. Thanks PCDI!