Start generating ideas for your future career path early

Three partners in research, study and teaching, transfer and coordinated support structures: that, in a nutshell, describes the strategic Alliance of Rhine-Main Universities (RMU). Having been hosted by Darmstadt Technical University last year, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is in charge of this year’s information, qualification and networking “RMU Postdoc Career Weeks” for Early Career Researchers (ECRs). In 2024, it will be Goethe University Frankfurt’s turn to organize the “RMU Postdoc Career Weeks”.

What exactly is the advantage of holding a joint RMU event for ECRs? Marlar Kin, who became the alliance’s managing director on March 1, 2023, sees the three universities’ large network as the main benefit for scientists in their early career phases. By pooling their resources, the number of contacts to potential employers, whether within or beyond academia, has tripled.

The event is not aimed solely at scientists in the postdoc phase: “While the focus of our event lies on the postdoc phase, any doctoral candidates contemplating their future career path, whether in academia or beyond, should not start doing so only after having received their doctorate. It starts earlier – which is why we are of course inviting all doctoral students to gather more information and network,” explains Julia Häuser-Huth, ECR Officer at Mainz University.

This year’s program focuses on the scientific career path, Häuser-Huth adds, with workshops on topics like research data management, mobility programs, supervision of doctoral students and gender diversity in research. Career opportunities outside the sciences will be the focus at three lunch talks, during which participating doctoral candidates will talk about their own career paths in the field of artificial intelligence or about self-employment and spin-offs. One lunch talk will focus specifically on career prospects for humanities scholars and social scientists.

To facilitate participation across the three locations, the event was designed as a virtual platform for exchange. “In future, face-to-face events are sure to play a more prominent role again, not least because they are particularly conducive to networking,” Kin and Häuser-Huth agree.

Kin is pleased that the widely varied program of this year’s Postdoc Weeks constitutes an almost ideal representation of what the RMU refers to as a “Space full of Opportunities”: “After all, part of this ‘Opportunities Space’ is the coordinated expansion of funding, guidance, support and exchange opportunities for ECRs, earmarked at facilitating individual future planning and the launch of a scientific career.” The Opportunities Space is one of three spaces within the RMU, alongside the so-called Interaction and Innovation Spaces. Each one represents a field of action in the RMU’s quest to further develop Frankfurt/Rhine-Main as an integrated science region, in which the alliance creates the conditions needed by ECRs, students and all employees to plan their individual careers and shape their personal futures.

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