LMU: Career event for postdocs

Postdoctoral researchers face a barrage of questions, so they need the right knowledge. Which is precisely where LMU’s Research Funding Unit provides valuable assistance – with the #EXCELLerate. LMU Postdoc Career Days series of events this May. At some 60 events, postdocs from all faculties can stop by to gather information, talk to others, improve their skills and reflect on their career situation.

“Many LMU units are already offering fantastic training and support opportunities for postdocs, and EXCELLerate for the first time brings them together under one roof,” explains Dr. Melanie Meermann-Zimmermann, Head of the Research Funding Unit. Alongside the Research Division, other units involved include the LMU Center for Leadership and People Management, the Career Service, the University Library, the Open Science Center and external service providers such as the pme family service.

The very extensive array of workshops and information events on offer covers everything from funding options for academic projects to career planning issues, advanced management and self-competence training, and how to achieve a healthy work-life balance in an academic career. These events break down into three blocks: ‘Fund Your Career’, ‘Design Your Career’ and ‘Balance Your Career’.

Third-party funding – Key aspects of an academic career
“The events in the ‘Fund Your Career’ block effectively reflect our core business here at LMU Research Funding,” Meermann-Zimmermann says. “Here it is all about advancing academic projects and your career by acquiring grants and subsidies. Given the broad spectrum of funding options available, we provide orientation and strategies for successful applications.”

At the half-day ‘Beginner’s Webinar on Funding Opportunies’, the Research Funding Unit provides an initial overview of the subject of acquiring third-party funds. In particular, it introduces programs of relevance to junior researchers. The German Research Foundation (DFG) – the largest German funding organization – will also be there to present its programs and answer any questions.

For postdocs who are already planning specific applications for selected DFG or EU programs, such as a ‘Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions’ fellowship, the Research Funding Unit also runs more in-depth workshops where participants can work on specific applications.

A firm foundation for well-informed career decisions
The ‘Design Your Career’ block gives postdocs all kinds of ways to think about their career, explore the possibilities and plan their next steps. Alongside courses such as ‘How to become a professor’ and skill training sessions, there is also a whole series of information events on career alternatives beyond the realms of academia.

At brief ‘Career Snippets’ and ‘Meet & Greet’ events, patent offices, IT firms and management consultancies are just some of the organizations that introduce themselves. The association ‘Munich Postdoc Network’ highlights the importance of networking and showcases techniques for anyone who still has a hard time systematically building up networks.

Useful tools for budding managers
Other courses tackle issues such as how to stop putting off unpleasant tasks and how not to “go under” when inundated by work. The seminar ‘Excellent Leadership. Leading Research’ organized by LMU’s Center for Leadership and People Management gives postdocs a set of good management tools. While most already attach great importance to the academic side of their work, many still feel unprepared to deal professionally with the challenges and tools of personnel management. This event therefore focuses on staff motivation, the right way to deal with conflicts and how to make good use of diversity in your team.

‘Balance Your Career’ addresses subjects such as getting yourself organized, achieving a healthy work-life balance in an academic career and looking after your own inner well-being. The ideas and suggestions provided can help you overcome the challenges of this very special phase of your career both at work and at home. “That is important, because family duties and care responsibilities can have a major influence on career decisions, as can work-life balance issues,” Meermann-Zimmermann notes.

Around 1,000 people are expected to attend the LMU Postdoc Career Days, with most events held in English and online. Some events also specifically target doctoral researchers who have nearly completed their doctorate. Moreover, since mobility is crucial in the postdoc phase, external researchers too are welcome to sign up for the ‘Fund Your Career’ workshops if they are planning projects that, if things go well, would bring them to LMU.

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