Career Advise, plan A, plan B, … plan Z?

Enrico Rukzio slides Thu, 15.03.2018

Difference between academia and industry

Prof. Rukzio started his talk by encouraging PhD students to ask themselves if they want to consider Academia or industry. He listed the differences some of the differences such as:

  • Academia is flexible in terms of time, but the industry is flexible in terms of location.
  • In academia, you get a private office but in the industry, you get more money, etc..
  • You are also more independent as an academic.

As a PhD holder, what can I do in the industry?

In industry, you can work in R and D, you can do UX, project management or software development. Computer science is in high demand, 44% of positions in Simens are in computer science, and 29% of those in BMW are in computer science. In many cases industry doesn’t ASK for PhD students because there are very few PhD holders. Some recruiters are not familiar with PhDs. However, it is highly appreciated and once people know you’ve got a PhD they will be very willing to hire you. It is important to know why a company wants to hire you. They have no idea what you do as a PhD student, but they appreciate it.

How to become a full professor?

Prof. Rukzio explained the possible paths to be a W3 professor (i.e., full professor). He also gave an overview of the timeframes for each stage in the academic career. Senior researchers in the session discussed possible career paths in academia such as (1) professorships in universities, (2) professorships in applied sciences universities, and (3) lecturers (Akademischer Rat).

  1. Professorships in universities: Tenure positions are rare in Germany. However, the rules are clear in the USA and in the UK there is a checklist of items to follow. Thus, it is important to publish some research without the supervisor to demonstrate independence for an academic career. Professorship hiring takes 1-2 years in Germany while it takes around 6 weeks in Denmark. You should list the journals, conferences, bibliometric data (e.g., Google Scholar), research visits abroad, and the number of supervised dissertations, 3rd party funding (DFG/ERC), teaching experience. They look for someone who can improve teaching, contribute to management, etc..
  2. Professorships in applied sciences: They require industry experience. Recently they started to encourage research as well. Bavarian universities are very strict about the industry experience. Other states make some exceptions, for example in Baden Wurttemberg they once hired a guy with experience from MPI.
  3. Akademischer Rat: It is an alternative where you do teaching but you have less autonomy due to having some sort of a “supervisor”. This is possible by promotion or through a vacancy, but this rarely happens.

Can I get professional training and vetting for my application?

There is a training for academics, like DHV Seminare “how to become a professor”. They also review your application.