Tips & tricks for your job search as an international scientist in Germany
Seher Abbas, PhD completed her Bachelors and Masters in Pakistan. In 2017 she was awarded the prestigious DAAD scholarship for completing her PhD in Neuroscience. In 2020 she transformed her career from academia to industry after serving a short postdoc at PIUS hospital Oldenburg. Currently, she is associated to Pharma industries as a Project Lead with her specialty in project management.
Seher’s main learnings when transitioning from academia to industry in Germany as an international scientist:
Thoughts like “nobody will hire me”
As a Ph.D., I had the same fear as my fellows. We had no confidence in ourselves, and the Industry seemed so far from our reach.
If you have the same thoughts, it’s alright; it’s normal. But it’s not true; you will be hired, and you will be seen and appreciated. You just need to learn how to sell your skills.
As a researcher, you are trained to solve problems, and you have developed the skills of brainstorming, researching, and coming up with ideas. It took me a long time to learn companies need this attitude. You only need to showcase this on top of your other skills.
Once you decide on your career in Industry, start networking with your future potential colleagues, managers, and companies. It’s easier than you think.
As a Ph.D. student, you are so focused on your project that you only find opportunities to communicate with others if you collaborate. To be successful in any industry, learn to communicate with your manager, colleagues, HR, and other stakeholders involved. I am talking about strategic communications, where you know your interests and be able to protect them.
Tips & tricks on changing careers
1. Time to decide
Decide where you want to go before your 3rd Ph.D. year begins. Use your last year to network/connect with potential companies. Use this opportunity to get referrals.
2. Emotional intelligence
Most of us thought of our Ph.D. as our babies; at least I did. Learn to let go of feelings, attachments, and expectations. You will be doing something which has many people’s interest.
3. Job applications
Treat them seriously, Think of the job description as a question paper, and one could find the answers in your CV. Highlight your skills that can do the job better than others, not the ones you think are best.
We asked Seher what she thinks are the most common mistakes she observes when researchers transition from academia to Industry. Is there anything particularly difficult for internationals?
As an international not learning German can be ignored in your Ph.D. time. But if you want to join Industry, learning German or showing interest is vital for your selection and career growth.
Leave the money on the table
As fresh grads, we tend to bend or blend a lot. Many researchers only apply for trainee positions/entry-level positions. It’s understandable, but with Ph.D. training from Germany, one should position themselves as a specialist and go for better-scale jobs.
We are scared to do salary negotiation. I get that. Remind yourself of all your skills, your projects’ impact, and what you can bring to the company. Do your salary research, and do not be scared to ask for a good number.
Not asking for proper Onboarding
It has become increasingly important for companies to provide an onboarding plan to new employees. Mostly these plans are redundant and not designed to meet their employee’s needs. One should take control of their onboarding plan to have a smooth transition.
Bring your curiosity but learn to make fast decisions!
How does Seher support researchers?
- decide which career they want to choose.
- find their first job in Industry, from resumes to interviews.
- have a smooth onboarding plan with their first job.
Download Seher’s Guide Academia vs. Industry to find some inspiration about how to decide on your next career step.