Postgraduate group bootcamp in Vesala camp center

Career possibilities after completing a PhD, this was the title of the bootcamp organized by the Language Campus postgraduate group on November the 8th. As promised by the title, the program included interesting presentations, open and constructive conversations among the participants, and also moments of relax. We had the possibility to enjoy Finnish meals and traditional activities surrounded by a peaceful birches’ forest. A few peculiarities of this Bootcamp: for the first time it has included the students of the joined Departments of Languages and Communication; moreover, we had the pleasure to share this experience with two visiting postdocs: Maria Rieder coming from the University of Limerick, Ireland, and Tulay Martinez Fernandez from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.

Maria Kotiranta, from the University of Jyväskylä Career Service, opened the day presenting an overview of the current situation of former PhD students translated into figures. The presentation was followed by self-evaluating skills activities and small group works, with the aim to let the group reflect on current wishes, future aims and their feasibility. Then three speakers approached different aspects related to career possibilities after completing doctoral studies.  Petteri Laihonen, Academy Research Fellow, focused on two main themes: first, how to structure an academic CV and, second, the importance of networking. On the latter, Petteri highlighted the opportunities of career that can rise from training or working experiences also in contexts slightly different from our main field. Raised from the audience’s questions, another relevant highlight of Petteri’s presentation has been on the importance of intercepting funding and promote in the CV previously funded successful experiences for the ones who are planning a career in research. After Petteri’s contribution we had two videoconference meetings: one with Eerika Hedman, entrepreneur consultant and coach who set her activity mainly in England, and the other one with Katja Bergbacka, Account Manager from Kouvola. Eerika illustrated her work that started already when she was an undergraduate student. She pointed out several phases of the life as an entrepreneur: how her idea developed since the very first stage of her university studies, and then more focused during the years of her Master till the PhD, till, finally, the decision to move to United Kingdom, where she currently lives and works. As Eerika highlighted, it has a central importance, in being an entrepreneur, the strength of motivation, as it plays a fundamental role in overcoming the difficult moments that constantly alternate to successful phases of this work. At the end of this session of the bootcamp, Katja Bergbacka, PhD in Romance Languages, Literatures and Linguistics and impressive career. Now-a-days Katja works as Account Manager in Kouvola with the function of strategic planning, and in particular, with responsibility for the Service needs of pupils at compulsory school age. One of the most evident characteristics of her career is the versatility that she has shown. As she has pointed out, together with education also other skills are required: such as tolerance of stress, perseverance and networking. These three factors are, in fact, common to all the three experiences of our speakers.

For the workshop organized by Maria, Saara and Maiju we worked in small groups: with the help of some pictures we described our current situation and potential future states we should face, such as mobility. It was a nice, informal and also cozy moment in which we could openly share our desires and fears and get feedback and support.

After lunch, the rest of the day was dedicated to activities surrounded by Finnish nature and tradition: a short walk by lake and then a pleasant and relaxing sauna session. Finally, for the bravest ones, avanto! An experience that will probably will be impressed in the memory of our visiting postdocs.