From Surviving to Thriving – Lessons From and For Ph.D. Students
Being a Ph.D. student is challenging. To help build future careers, TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School offers a course on crafting a good professional life.
Pursuing a Ph.D. can be a challenging endeavor. Rigorous coursework, extensive research, and pressure to publish can affect even the most dedicated students. It is not enough to just survive being a Ph.D. student. It is also possible to thrive and build the foundations for a sustainable, satisfying, and rewarding career path.
Since 2021, TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School has offered the course “From surviving to thriving: crafting your good professional life” for Ph.D. students in the winter semester. Held by Geraldine Fitzpatrick, it focuses on two foundational sets of personal skills towards thriving as an academic, researcher, and professional. One is understanding who you are in your professional role and shaping your choices to align with your values and strengths. The other is about bringing your best self to work by taking well-being seriously. The scientific evidence is clear that “well-being is a critical enabling condition for academic success [where] balanced, happy people are more productive, more creative, more collaborative.” (Graduate Happiness and Wellbeing Report, University of Berkeley, 2014).
Many Ph.D. students will end up working in sectors outside of universities, and there are multiple paths to navigate their future careers. But how to make good career decisions can be challenging. To help with this, the course guides students in finding a career path aligning with their values, looking closer at what ‘doing well’ in professional life means to them, and projecting their future career paths.
On January 13, 2023, a panel & round-table session entitled “Connect yourself: Career paths & supportive networks” were held at TU Wien’s Kontaktraum as part of the course, in which eight recent Informatics Ph.D. alumni shared their experiences about different career choices and current jobs.
Matthias Fuegger and Marijana Lasic talked about the benefits and challenges of their careers in academia; Katharina Krösl and Petr Tummeltshammer shared insights into their industry research positions; Annette Mossel and Tanja Mayerhofer talked about working in the industry, and Eric Armengaud explained how he built a start-up. An honorable mention goes to alumni Matthias Wunsch, who unfortunately couldn’t participate.
The current Ph.D. students were excited about the offered insights, helping them to better understand different career options after completing their degree and to make more informed decisions to pursue a healthy and fulfilling professional life. And for all future and current Ph.D. students who didn’t participate: a new course for the next winter semester is in the making!
Find out more about the TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School.