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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

What nobody tells you about being a good academic

A little apprehensively he approaches me as I am getting my coat after a workshop on Working Soft in research. Quietly he asks: “How do I improve my focus and manage my stress? Call me Chris. I work in this open office space with 12 fellow PhDs and Postdocs. When I read, write, or analyze data at my computer people often interrupt me. I like to help my colleagues out, but I also need to finish…”

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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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How to get a clue what you can do with your PhD

So you (nearly) got a PhD in the humanities or social sciences. You probably always envisioned a scholarly future for yourself within academia, so you never gave much thought to other options for possible careers. But then reality dawns and academic careers appear not only highly competitive, but also extremely scarce and not necessarily won on the grounds of scholarly merit. Or you have tried and found the academic route was not as desirable or fitting after all. In short: you have to adjust your long held vision and plans. Where to start?

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On supervisors

Inevitably you will experience moments during your PhD where things between you and your supervisor do not go as smoothly as you would like. Small wonder: a PhD is a pretty intense project in which you yourself go through a considerable personal development and in which your supervisor has to balance two roles that are hard to combine, that of coach and that of examiner.  Most supervisors know exactly which role to adopt at a given moment, but there will be a day, or days, where e.g. you receive fierce criticism while you actually badly needed a pat on the back.

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Vrijheid en expert zijn

Rianne is net gepromoveerd en heeft meteen een mooie onderzoeksbaan in het bedrijfsleven aangeboden gekregen. Ze komt bij mij omdat ze bewuster wil kiezen en richting geven aan loopbaan om niet langer door te kabbelen in het geijkte, gegeven pad. Ondanks de grote successen van de afgelopen maanden met haar promotie en vervolg-baan twijfelt ze sterk aan haar eigen capaciteiten. Zo zegt ze: “50% van mijn proefschrift was wel goed, maar van de andere helft vraag ik me af wanneer ze uitvinden dat het niet zo geweldig is?” Ze denkt daarbij: “Anderen zijn toch beter dan ik.”

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