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The PhD Career Platform helps PhD candidates get on the job market

Around 70 per cent of new PhD graduates leave the University and the opportunities open to them are enormous. Getting stressed from too much choice? As a PhD candidate, you can use the PhD Career Platform to take career choice tests, work on your LinkedIn profile and learn some handy tips for job applications. Three PhD candidates talk about their experiences.

'It's really useful that I can now talk the language of HR people'

Petra Bakker, PhD candidate in molecular biology

'My two supervisors asked what my plans are for when I have my doctorate early next year. After spending years in the lab, I didn't really know what else I could do. It was a great help that the PhD portal came online last spring.

'I was mainly interested in the "Get to know yourself" part. One of the tests, the motivation questionnaire, included a personal discussion with a career coach. It was really useful to take a good look at myself, not so much about factual things, but more psychological. And to put into words what my strong and weak points are. I had an idea, of course, but now I know for sure that working in data collection or analysis is a good match for my orderly and systematic nature.' 

'Another advantage is that I've now learned the language that HR people speak. I'm prepared for questions in interviews and can express better in job applications why I want to do something and how I am able to do it. The good thing about the set-up is that you can work on it yourself without first having to ask your supervisor for funding. That's often a big hurdle.

'I would definitely recommend the portal to other people. It does need to be easier to find, though. If I hadn't been sent a link by mail when the portal was launched this spring, I'd never have found it. There are also a few loops in the information, which is something I see all over the university website. You click on a link, for example, and end up back where you've just come from.'  

Jorrit Smit, philosophy PhD candidate

'I've just had the first discussion with a career coach via the portal. It wasn't easy to work out from the information how these discussions worked in practice. It was fun doing the tests, especially the Focusing on talents one.  For that test I had to ask other people how they see me. I'm having a hard time putting together a good profile of myself from all the inputs. What I'm missing is the offline activity of reflecting on what I've done myself online. Hopefully it will turn out OK in the three further discussions I'll be having. 

'I did already know that I'm a generalist. After my bachelor's in Chemistry, I switched to History of Science and Philosophy. This PhD portal helped me realise that there are also opportunities outside the University where my skills, knowledge and interests can be put to good use once I've got my PhD. 

'The tests and the talk with the coach helped me move forward. I have ocasionally thought about what I could do, maybe working as a consultant or editor, for example. The coach showed me the similarities between these different jobs: in both cases, the work is very independent, but you also have to be able to work with other people.' 

Bartosz Benenowski, PhD candidate in theoretical physics

'One of the assignments I did through the portal was to ask people how they see me. That was fun; I'm apparently too modest about myself. Thanks to the tests, the intake and the three discussions with a coach, I know that I want to look for a job where I can use my analytical skills in a freer and more creative way. That would suit me much better than a structured, goal-oriented career or a management position. 

'I was told about the portal by a friend. When I have my doctorate next spring I hope I can find a job in the Netherlands. I'm from Poland and I came here for my master's programme. I didn't know much about the Dutch job market. This portal is an efficient way of finding out what you want and how you should go about applying for jobs. I've now improved my LinkedIn profile and I'm better prepared for interviews. Working with the portal doesn't take up much time and it really is very useful.' 

'People around me see me differently from what I thought'

Text: Rianne Lindhout
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