Categories
Soft skills development

Talk like TED: confidence in public speaking by Jan Scheele

During the “Talk like TED” workshop, PhDs and PostDocs had the chance to experience what is like to give a TEDx talk from an expert, Jan Scheele. Jan has organised multiple TED events, and he has given countless presentations and talks in a variety of environments and occasions. He shared tips and tricks on how to gain confidence during presentations, and how to avoid the fear of public speaking.

The 3-hour workshop was a great opportunity for participants to ask questions and have personal feedback about their communication and presentation skills. It has also allowed participants to share their obstacles and to develop together techniques on how to overcome their fear.

You can learn and read more about Jan, and his “Talk like TED” workshops at http://www.talkliketed.nl/

“I found the speaker was well prepared and the topic was in a good way and in deep discussed”

Anonymous participant

“Nice speaker, small group, chances for colleagues to practice their own presentations”

Anonymous participant

“Enjoyed the tips given for confidence and clear message”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Career orientation Emotional well-being at work Soft skills development

FYS Social Event

We finally organized the first social event for the FYS community since the pandemic started! It was a real pleasure to see you all networking, enjoying drinks and snacks at Bar Boele. The evening became even more ‘gezellig’ once we discovered that one of the PhD candidates had his birthday on that day. What a coincidence!!

We wish everyone a good start of the new academic year and we look forward to seeing you in the forthcoming FYS workshops. We have a lot of exciting workshops planned!

Categories
Soft skills development

Transferable skills by Thierry Delatte from bHertz

In this 3-hour interactive workshop, PhD candidates and Postdocs did a series of practical exercises to re-discover which transferable skills they already possess. It is hard to believe, but there are around 52 transferable skills, such as relationship building, idea development, assertiveness, ability to write clearly, to delegate, to say ‘no’, and many others!

The workshop gave a great opportunity to reflect on the participants’ capabilities and competences. It also allowed participants to identify their strongest transferable skills that they may showcase during their job interviews in the future. The workshop ended with a nice lunch to share experiences.

You can read more about Thierry Delatte at https://delattecoaching.nl/

“Thierry Delatte did an excellent job in including everyone, creating a safe space for exchange and discussion, and giving great first-hand advice for specific challenges”

Anonymous participant

“Great interaction and the workshop leader was kind”

Anonymous participant

“It showed me in a simple and intuitive way how to talk about my skills”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Career orientation

CV building and motivation letter by Laura Norci

Your CV and motivation letter can be a make-or-break factor in a job application. PhD candidates and Postdocs are in a position where they likely have to apply for different positions.

In this on-campus workshop on “how to showcase yourself”, dr. Laura Norci from Appathways taught Early Career Researchers how to showcase their work as a PhD or Postdoc through their CV and motivation letter. During the workshop, participants learned to tune their CVs for a certain job within and outside of academia. Also, they discussed what to write in a motivation letter and to identify strenghts and skills. Participants shared their opinions with each other about what matters in applying for a job and actively asked Laura for tips and tricks in the application process.

You can read more about dr. Laura Norci at: http://www.appathways.nl/

“It is nice that it is oriented towards researchers instead of a general course”

Anonymous participant

“I have more of an idea what a research-related CV should look like and how it should be composed. So the explanations regarding different sections with examples were nice”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Soft skills development

Scientific storytelling for grant writing by Marieke Hohnen

Writing grant proposals is challenging. Your readers are not specialists in your topic, you have to show why your research is interesting, and you have limited space. This requires specific writing skills. 

In this 2.5-hour workshop, Marieke Hohnen from Hakuna Matata taught participants how to engage readers by writing memorable introductions and avoiding common pitfalls. Together with the group, Marieke talked about the aspects of grant writing that they need to keep in mind, such as avoiding technical concepts or being direct and concise when expressing ideas. After this, PhDs and Postdocs from different disciplines worked in pairs sharing what motivates them about their respective research topics. Finally, Marieke gave individual feedback to each person. In the last section of the workshop, participants worked on integrating these comments into their documents to develop stronger proposals.

You can read more about Marieke Hohnen at: https://mariekehohnen.com/en/

“I liked that it was personalized (we got to practice right away / feedback) and overall information and tips were very clear and useful!”

Anonymous participant

“Exchange with other peers from different areas of research. Tips to improve the story for a grant application. I now see myself closer to be able to do so :)”

Anonymous participant

“It was very clear that Marieke has experience on grant application, and her practical approach made it much more useful compared to theoretical approaches”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Emotional well-being at work

Imposter Syndrome by Ellis Vyth

What is “imposter syndrome” and how does it impact you? These are the questions that attendants were asked at the beginning of the Imposter syndrome workshop provided by Ellis Vyth (Hertz).

“It is the feeling that ‘I don’t deserve it’.”

“I think my peers are smarter and more talented than me.”

“I don’t feel people’s compliments to me are genuine.”

“It demotivates me to do my work.”

…….

After attendants shared their personal stories about “imposter syndrome”, trainer Ellies Vyth pointed out that imposter syndrome is very universal in academia among both male and female researchers. Therefore, don’t feel alone.

To beat the imposter syndrome, three main steps are suggested and practiced in an interactive way during the workshop: First, notice your success and ask/accept positive feedbacks; Second, stop comparing with peers and remember that each person has their own strengths and expertise; Third, speak out mid- or long-term dreams, name the potential barriers, and take small steps to achieve the goal.

You can read more about Ellis Vyth at https://www.ellisvyth.nl/

“Today, I was told that I have a lovely smile. Yes, I should smile more often”

Anonymous participant

“Hearing stories from peers, I realised that I am not alone”

Anonymous participant

“I really enjoyed the three hours workshop”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Soft skills development

Time Management Workshop by Jeanine de Bruin

The academic journey can be seen by many as a marathon. PhD candidates, especially at the beginning of their career, often struggle with managing tasks and workload efficiently. In academia, many tasks are often required to be performed in a limited period of time and many can start feeling overwhelmed. 

This online workshop on “Time Management” provided by Jeanine de Bruin from Hakuna Matata (https://www.hakunamatata.nl) helped young researchers to understand how to assess the time needed for a task and how to set priorities. During the workshop, Jeanine also covered ‘how to deal with stress’, discussing the five origins of stress: 1) lack of concentration and focus, 2) no control over the situation, 3) reluctance for vague and difficult tasks, 4) having high expectations, 5) unclear assessment criteria. Participants learned techniques and tips to help with time management, and had the chance to share experiences with each other.

You can read more about Jeanine de Bruin at: https://www.hakunamatata.nl

“Very structured, nice balance between instruction and exercises in break-out rooms”

Anonymous participant

“I liked that we needed to actively participate and that we started to actually write short paragraph”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Career orientation

Professional Networking for Early Career Researchers by Ellis Vyth

PhD candidates often prioritize research activities and overlook the power of connecting to others both inside and outside academia. However, networking is key for gaining visibility in the job market, learning about open vacancies and expectations of the employers.

This online workshop on “Professional Networking for Early Career Researchers” provided by Ellis Vyth from Hertz (https://www.bhertz.nl/) helped early career researches appreciate the power of networking. During the workshop, the participants learnt do’s & don’ts of networking, practiced visualizing their network and identifying networking opportunities. The workshop also emphasized networking strategies suitable for science and industry, for online and offline environments. The participants also had a chance to practice networking conversations.

You can read more about Ellis Vyth at https://www.ellisvyth.nl/

“It’s interactive, we do role-playing and it’s hands-on”

Anonymous participant

“The coach was very enthusiastic”

Anonymous participant

“I enjoyed interaction between participants”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Soft skills development

Supervising Students by Jeanine de Bruin

PhD candidates and postdocs have many responsibilities besides working on their research. Supervising students is one of them. As young researchers, we are expected to know how to provide constructive feedback or how to negotiate expectations with bachelor or master’s students. This, of course, is not an easy task.

This offline workshop with Jeanine de Bruin of Hakuna Matata combined theory and practice. The goal was to give a solid foundation on relevant topics, such as influencing styles and strategies to provide direct and clear feedback. At the same time, Jeanine gave concrete tools to be effective while supervising students. These tools were discussed in a collaborative environment by PhD candidates and postdocs from different disciplines.

You can read more about Jeanine de Bruin at: https://hakunamatata.nl

“It was concrete and gave specific tips, being able to learn from my peers”

Anonymous participant

“The teacher and her style was really excellent”

Anonymous participant

“I learned a lot of useful tips and got to know many things I never paid attention to”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Soft skills development

Science Communication: how to effectively blog? by Marieke Hohnen

As PhD students and postdocs, we have to be able to present our research to different audiences. While we are used to talking about our projects to peers in conferences, sometimes we are faced with the challenge of discussing our findings with the general audience. Many questions appear in this process: How technical should we be? How in-depth should we go? The goal of this workshop was to learn the basics to write an effective blog post. During the 3-hour session, Marieke Hohnen from Hakuna Matata, presented the advantages of scientific outreach. Researchers from various disciplines learned about the multiple options on the web to write about their project. 

After the introduction, Marieke introduced the benefits of blogging. Relevant aspects, such as the audience (who are you writing for?) and the content of the post (what are you going to write about?), were discussed through group activities. Participants were asked to write the first lines of their post and provide feedback to each other. Finally, Marieke gave tips for starting (or continuing) their writing journey.

You can read more about Marieke Hohnen at: https://mariekehohnen.com/en/

“Very structured, nice balance between instruction and exercises in break-out rooms”

Anonymous participant

“I liked that we needed to actively participate and that we started to actually write short paragraph”

Anonymous participant

“Marieke has a lot of knowledge and she was able to keep my attention!” (translated from Dutch: “Marieke heeft erg veel kennis en ze kon goed mijn aandacht vasthouden!”)

Anonymous participant

Categories
Emotional well-being at work

Recognizing and neutralizing stress and burnout #2 by Claartje van Sijl

As an academic, we all want to be productive and achieve results while enjoying what we do with a clear outlook on a purposeful and fulfilling career. However, the reality is often different, and too many of us are being hindered by the increasing amount of stress we experience.

We all know the feeling of being stressed and express it in a variety of different ways, yet not many of us know how to deal with and neutralize stress to ensure it doesn’t result in negative effects. This second session of ‘Recognising and Neutralizing Stress and Burnout’ with Claartje van Sijl touched on the topics of stress and burnout (or boreout), raising awareness about the different stages of stress and when they are a cause for concern. After providing an overview of the mechanisms behind stress, Claartje taught us practical skills on how to recognise our stress signals and consequently take action on to prevent and lower our stress levels.

You can read more about Claartje at http://vansijl.com.

We fully understand that these past couple of months have been extremely stressful for many, and want to point out that there are multiple sources of support available should you feel the need to speak to someone about what you have been feeling.

  • You can speak to your fellow PhD candidates/colleagues, they can often provide informal support and the mere sharing of how you feel can already feel like a huge relief.
  • Discuss your feelings and needs with your surpervisor so that they can support you through the process.
  • If you would like to talk to someone outside of your department yet still within the VU, you can contact the Studentenombudsman; Lies (E.J.) Poesiat. Email: studentenombudsman@vu.nl. Phone: 020 598 5313.
  • You can also contact the HSE Front Office to arrange seeing a social worker, the company Dr. or a Psychologist. Email: secretariaat.amd@vu.nl. Phone: 020 59 89008.
  • Lastly, you can also go to your GP (huisarts) should you wish to speak with someone not affiliated to the VU.

If you need further help or guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact us as well via forumyoungscientists@vu.nl.

“I liked that the audience was from like-minded people, who think alike and are struggling with similar problems”

Anonymous participant

“Very useful input, tailored towards early career academics, nice sense of community (despite the online format)”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Soft skills development

Presentation Skills by Marieke Hohnen

Speaking in front of an audience is an essential part of being a scientist. Presentations can be formal or informal, the amount of time that you are given can vary, or, especially in these times, you might have to speak in front of a computer screen. Regardless of the setting, talking in public can be scary. But it is also a skill that you can practice and improve, and even learn to enjoy!

During this 3-hour workshop, Marieke Hohnen presented some of the tips and tricks to prepare and give a convincing (online) presentation. Participants from different disciplines worked in breakout rooms to practice different exercises. They also gave each other feedback to create strong openings and closings for their presentations.

You can read more about Marieke Hohnen at: https://mariekehohnen.com/en/

“I really took very important tips with me”

Anonymous participant

“Dynamic, engaging, well facilitated”

Anonymous participant

“I liked meeting and talking to other people than the ones I usually talk to”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Emotional well-being at work

Recognizing and neutralizing stress and burnout by Claartje van Sijl

Being a researcher can be very stressful nowadays: you have to conduct high-level scientific research in a given time, as well as writing academic papers, dealing with one ore more supervisors, having to teach courses, just to name a few tasks. Throughout this intense journey, you may have learned to develop tools to handle the associated pressure, but at times the stress seems to reach levels that do not allow you to work properly. Maybe you begin having trouble sleeping or perhaps you start feeling physical pain. These are important signs of stress and there are simple techniques that we can use to prevent it.

In the interactive workshop ‘Recognizing and neutralizing stress and burnout’, Claartje van Sijl created awareness of these personal stress factors that can vary between each person. She also showed us practical resources to help us regain a better balance. The workshop focused on three main elements: stress and burnout prevention, recognition of burnout and, finally, information on what to do in case you are facing burnout in your personal work environment.

You can read more about Claartje at http://vansijl.com.

“What would you like me to deprioritize?’ is a phrase I’ll definitely try to use!”

Anonymous participant

“It was good to hear that others also deal with the same issues”

Anonymous participant

Become a FYS board member

Categories
Soft skills development

Job Application Skills by Ingrid Scheijven from De Groeizaak

Ingrid Scheijven from ‘De Groeizaak’ gave an interactive workshop on Job Application Skills. In this workshop Ingrid explained the how to tune our CVs and cover letters to the vacancy we want to apply for and how to prepare for a job interview. We also discussed which questions to ask and not to ask during a job interview. Participants gave each other feedback on their CVs and cover letters and the workshop finished with an interactive play role activity where we interviewed each other. In addition, one of the participants was selected for a free coaching session with Ingrid! It was a successful morning!

http://www.degroeizaak.nl

The topic was highly relevant and the speaker was experienced on job hunting in the Netherlands.”

Anonymous participant

The small breakout rooms worked well. It was nice to get to know others on a more personal level.”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Career orientation

From Academia to Industry by Lisette Spoelder from People in Science

When you’re close to finishing your PhD or postdoc you will have to make a choice about your next career step. A common question is: to be in academia, or not to be in academia. If you so much choose to transition your career to industry, it can be quite unclear at first what your opportunities are, what strategies to adapt to find vacancies and what skills and competences you’ve developed which can apply to job functions outside your line of work. Especially understanding what your transferable skills are can help you feel more confident in applying for jobs outside your ‘niche’ research and, more importantly, outside your comfort zone.

In this workshop, Lisette from People in Science taught us how to recognize new job opportunities through various vacancy platforms. Additionally, as a recruiter herself, she explained how job recruiters look at your career profile, and how you can optimize your profile to increase your exposure. Moreover, we interactively practiced how to recognize your transferable skills and competences, and employed the STARR method to cinvincingly translate those, either in an interview or motivation letter.

www.peopleinscience.nl

“Compliments on how this course was given online.”

Anonymous participant

“Useful information for job seekers”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Career orientation

Networking by Ellis Vyth from Bhertz

Building up a network is crucial for a successful career in academia or industry. However, networking skills are not that easy to develop, especially for young scientists, who might feel like a small fish in a big pond. In this online workshop, Ellis Vyth from Bhertz discussed topics such as online and off-line networking and the differences between networking in academia and industry. Furthermore, through both individual and group assignments, we became familiar with the do’s and dont’s of networking and how we can build up a network ourselves.

http://www.bhertz.nl

“combi of practice and background info; enthousiastic presenter”

Anonymous participant

“The interaction with others: networking too!”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Emotional well-being at work

Imposter Syndrome by Ellis Vyth from bHertz

Having the feeling that we don’t belong to a group or that we don’t deserve our success is unfortunately common in academia. Talking openly about this make can make us realize that we all face the same challenges, which already tell us how weak the fundamentals of this concept are – there is then no point of “disregarding our work” or “constantly compare it with others”. In this workshop, Ellis Vyth from Bhertz explained what the imposter syndrome is, how it can affect us and what strategies can be adopted to tackle it.

During this workshop participants interactively learned to take ownership of their success, embrace compliments and identify their qualities. In a first activity participants were asked to share a story and complement each other. Understanding what our ambitions and dreams are can help us find our place in the ‘now’ and pave our way forward. So, in a second exercise participants shared their future projects. The group had deep conversations and people were actively engaged in the activities!

http://www.bhertz.nl

“I really liked the event and Zoom worked very well. I think, it was even better to connect via Zoom since we shared some personal stories that are not easy to share”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Soft skills development

How to defend your PhD thesis by Daniël Schut from bHertz

Defending your dissertation in front of the opposition can be nerve-wrecking and stressful. Luckily, there are strategies to adopt to prepare yourself optimally for your defense. In this online workshop Daniël discussed and interactively practiced strategies to confidently work towards your defense. What questions can you expect the opposition to ask, and therefore prepare for it? How do you respond to difficult questions? How to deal with different styles of questioning?

The participants were invited to make a short two minute pitch of their defense to present to a colleague in 3 rounds – questions and feedback was given by the other colleague and roles were changed. Each round focused on one of the three key aspects, mentioned above. To successfully complete the assignment, participants had to focus on key points of their thesis, but the content was not everything – clarity, intonation and confidence were tested as well. The best practice is practice, practice, practice – so that’s what they did!

www.bhertz.nl

“Very dynamic, well structured, active participation”

Anonymous participant

“I usually need to know about the ‘framework’ of what I am doing in order to be able to know what to expect. This workshop has helped me in that”

Anonymous participant

“Practice with people from different fields is insightful, because it forces you to rethink terminology that you use every day and is completely obscure to others.”

Anonymous participant

Categories
Soft skills development

Conflict Management by Daniël Schut from bHertz

PhD-candidates and Postdocs often find themselves in situations where good communication skills are called for. Whether it is on deciding upon the right direction for the research, or negotiating on how many experiments to include, young scientists can find it difficult to pursue their own ideas while keeping a good relationship with their peers and supervisor. Researchers in the academic world are already negotiating without being aware of it! In this workshop participants learned how to prepare negotiations thoroughly and how both parties can book success. Daniel brought interactive activities in how to prepare negotiations thoroughly and how to identify our individual conflict style!

www.bhertz.nl

Conflict management by Daniël Schut from bHertz
Conflict management by Daniël Schut from bHertz

“Practical application; roleplay; interactiveness; trying out negotiations”

Anonymous participant

“I was really curious to the setup of this workshop of 3 hours. I think the lecturer has done a great job of teaching us on conflict management in an interactive way. The structure was well-thought and I liked the assignments and theory.”

Anonymous participant

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