Milica Maksimovic stands at one of the crossroads of her life. This January, she will defend her doctoral dissertation on neuroscience, but after that her future is open. To navigate the jungle of different options, Maksimovic took the Career Services course for English-speaking doctoral students, first one course for her own field and then another one for a multidisciplinary audience.
These courses have strengthened Maksimovic’s resolve to aim outside the world of academia. Above all, they have clarified her understanding of her own competence.
“When you’re in the laboratory, you don’t necessary think about the skills you’re acquiring in addition to doing research. During the course I’ve become increasingly aware of this additional competence.”
Maksimovic believes that recognising her own skills will be very useful when drafting job applications and preparing for interviews.
There is more life than a career
The University has offered career skills courses for a decade, aimed at Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral level students. According to Planning Officer Leena Itkonen of Career Services, students have given positive feedback on the courses.
“Doctoral students are very active on the course. They have already made career choices such as deciding to pursue a doctoral degree.”
The focus on career planning leads of course to some profound questions. In addition to mapping their own competences, participants determine their values and those of their potential employers.
“Ultimately, the question students answer during the course is ‘who am I’,” Itkonen points out.
You have a wonderful job
Course participants have praised the opportunity to discuss career skills with others who are in the same situation. In addition to such peer support, a particularly fruitful assignment has been one where students interview someone working in their dream job. These half-hour conversations have given students tips for building their own careers.
Students have been surprised at the enthusiasm with which the interviewees agree to discuss their work. According to Itkonen, the interviewees also see the situation as useful for themselves, as it gives them an opportunity to stop and consider their own work.
“And of course it’s flattering when someone calls you on a cold and grey November day to tell you that you have a wonderful job!”
Towards the future
Originally from Serbia, Maksimovic moved to Finland four years ago, motivated by a good dissertation supervisor.
“I’m not sure if I’ll stay in Finland or move, for example, to the United States, which has a much more extensive selection of job opportunities in my field.”
Even though many questions remain unanswered, Maksimovic has felt that she has taken concrete steps towards her future during the course. She encourages students to take the course and to commit to the coursework.
“It’s up to you!”
Text: Tiina Palomäki
Photo: Linda Tammisto
Translation: University of Helsinki Language Services
Orginally posted at FLAMMA