Symposium Jobs Outside Academia

Symposium Jobs Outside Academia

What are the options if you don't want to work in Academia after completing the research master?

The symposium "Jobs Outside Academia," that took place last month, dealt with this question. Students Anna Vidina and Susan Ott were in the organizing committee and wrote the following report.


"This symposium was organized for the master students of Clinical & Psychosocial Epidemiology (CPE), Medical & Pharmaceutical Drug Innovation (MPDI) and International Master of Innovative Medicine (IMIM) programmes. The aim was to give students an overview of the career possibilities after finishing the master programs.  

After a lot of brainstorming together with the organizing team and enquiring our fellow CPE, MPDI and IMIM students about what shape the event should take, we decided on having two sets of presentations each followed by a mingle session. In this way students could get both an overview of the work that the speaker is doing and talk to the presenters in an informal way.

The speakers of the symposium were all from different fields. The first speaker was Marike Alferink, a former CPE student. After the master program she started to work as a psychologist at Molendrift. For her, the master knowledge helped her to develop academic thinking which is useful in her current job. Marike’s presentation was followed by a general introduction by Martin Smit. He showed statistics that only 20% of the PhD students end up in the academia and explained some very important differences between the work inside and outside the academia. Moreover, from his own experience in the pharma industry Martin could tell students about skills which can be developed at the university and are required in jobs outside it. Next Wim Doctor, a biochemist, talked about his work experience at his different pharmaceutical companies, including Organon and Synthon. He gave an insight in the structure of a company and said that his favorite things outside the academia are the multidisciplinary approach and working in a diverse team. The last speaker before the break was Anja Smykowski. After finishing her PhD, she worked at Springer Nature as an editor. Now she is working as a Grant Consultant at the UMCG and has had a very dynamic career so far. She gave a lot of tips for working outside the Academia. Her advice was to participate in courses and workshops, being curious, networking, creating your own brand and knowing your strengths while not stressing about it too much. Not an easy task, the students agreed.

After the break and first mingle session, Gunnar Flik and Kees van der Graaf gave their presentations. Gunnar is a pharmaceutical doctor, and is the director of the Charles River laboratories which are located in Groningen, Gottingen and San Francisco. His ingredients for successful development of a company are flexibility, structure and communication. He mentioned that the dangers for a company are growing too fast, loosing to competition, finding the right people and adapting to changes in the marked. Kees van der Graaf, a pharmacist as well, gave the last lecture of the symposium. His presentation was about start-up companies and he was passionate about every bit about them. He gave many points to consider when starting a company. Starting your own company has as many cons as pros and is definitely not meant for everyone.

Overall the symposium was a great success. The speakers were amazing each with their own topic. Even more, the group of speakers together allowed students to get a broad overview of the jobs outside the academia. The mingle sessions were great to let students ask more questions to the speakers. None of this would had been possible without the support from the GSMS Innovation Project ENRICH and Nico Bos and Martin Smit especially.

The symposium was attended by the expected number of students and a lot of interesting questions were asked after the presentations. Points of improvement would be an extra speaker from a psychological related epidemiological field."