Transitioning into a career after your Humanities PhD – Or how to create an Alt-Ac Philosophical Company

“What are you going to do with your degree in philosophy?” Every philosophy student sooner or later hears this cliché question. And it is not unfamiliar in other fields from Humanities and fundamental sciences. The stakes are even higher after a PhD in said disciplines. Your slim chances at work appear narrowed down to the academic job market. But statistics are compelling: more than 75% of recent PhD holders do not find academic employment. Go figure.

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How to take charge of your hypercritical brain

Laura sits down at her kitchen table. A welcome quiet evening between days filled with parties with family and friends over the holidays. New Year’s Eve: a traditional time of year to look back at the past year and formulate resolutions for the new year. Laura knows the power of being mindful of your successes. She is proud that she submitted her PhD thesis manuscript last year and got approval for it.

As she starts to look to the year ahead, her positive thoughts fade quickly. Read more

Where you do not need your supervisor’s approval for a successful PhD

Enrica struggles to complete her PhD. She started her project 4,5 years ago: she designed it herself, loved it, and was overjoyed when she received a grant that allowed her to study the topic she loved. Now, the project has become heavy. Often she just wants to chuck her computer out the window. She has tears in her eyes when she tells this, but she is also determined to finish.

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What Plato can teach you about perfectionism and academic career planning

“I don’t know if I want to be a group leader. If I do this, I want to be a good PI, you know. I just am a perfectionist.” At a brisk pace, Rose walks next to me through the spring forest. A few months ago, she got her PhD in the life sciences, cum laude, and started a prestigious postdoc shortly after. All signs point to a successful career as an excellent research leader. But she hesitates, looking around doubtfully.

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When science is just not completely rational

Doing research means to break new ground. Try new things, experiment and fail 99 times before at the 100th iteration something exciting happens. Endlessly reading complex literature on a topic, studies of a method, only to conclude that no-one actually knows the exact answer to your question. So you carry on, pioneering. “To boldly go…” and all that.

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How academic excellence resembles a singing horse

Review of a socratic dialogue about excellence

What is excellence? How do we detect it? Can we strive for it? Should we strive for it? “The Singing Horse” (“Het Zingende Paard”) is the report of a socratic dialogue on the notion of excellence between Jeroen Geurts, professor of neuroscience and member of the Dutch Young Academy, and Harm van der Gaag, philosophical counselor. The notion of excellence holds the key to many doors in academia, but is not as self-evident as it is often made to seem…
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What is a PhD anyway?

Starting on a PhD project, every PhD student will have some ideas about what a PhD entails, but most never get to explicitly investigate how they actually conceptualize it. Do you consider your PhD a process, or a product? Is it your life’s work, a stepping stone, an academic ritual…? Your answer to the question ‘What is a PhD anyway?‘ has a far-reaching influence on your definition of success, on your motivation and self-confidence, on how you engage with your research project, not to mention how it influences the way you position yourself with respect to others both during and after your PhD.

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How mindset and personal attitude influence your employability

Experts on sustainable employability of university employees assume that you are responsible as an individual employee for consciously shaping your own career, while the university as employer should facilitate and support you in this endeavor. This implicit hypothesis emerged in an expert meeting about a research report by dr. Judith Semeijn and prof. dr. Tinka van Vuuren on sustainable employability of university employees.*

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A Taoist tip for doing research

Sometimes when you are trying to focus on a research puzzle, or when you open up a document to write that methods section you have been avoiding for a while, you may notice your mind flittering everywhere in stead of concentrating at the task you sat down to do. This constantly happened to Chris* as he was finishing his thesis. So he came to me and asked: “How can I create more focus and improve my motivation in this final thesis stage?”

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