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.
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!
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!
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!
Many PhD-students and postdocs experience difficulties in maintaining a balance between all the different projects and tasks they have. This is not to mention the difficult balance between work and private life. It is all about making the right decisions, but these are often not very clear and are always very personal. In this workshop Ellis worked with us on deciding on the tasks to definitely pursue and those that could be discarded. We practiced different ways of convincing our colleagues and supervisors and learned to say no in an effective and friendly way.