INBIONET is over, let the job search begin!

Feb ,13 2017

The INBIONET project is nearly over! As the initial excitement has slowly faded and given way to the rush of completing all the requirements, this is perhaps a good time to reflect on the amazing experience of the past 3 years.

As I was being recruited from Sweden in 2013 by Pavel, I do not remember paying much attention to the fact that my employment would be under the umbrella of INBIONET. At that time, I was extremely focused on my interest in his research and my excitement about the opportunity to pursue my PhD under his supervision. The Marie Curie funding was merely a means to achieve that.

When I arrived to Vienna, I met my local INBIONET compatriot Masa, and we got to work on preparing our assignment for the first workshop and training unit in Dublin. This is when I realized that the PhD under INBIONET would be something quite different. We were tasked with preparing a poster, which we would use to explain to lay people our research project and its societal relevance. Our posters were to be evaluated by a local science journalist. While the task seemed easy, I remembers sitting on this for days. There I was, having presented science for years with graphs and charts of results, complicated schematic diagrams of pathways and processes. Yet, if I was given 5 minutes to explain the significance of my research to someone I met on the street, I would not be able to do it. This first assignment made me realize why INBIONET was putting such an emphasis on public outreach. As scientific discoveries progress and our understanding of the world gets more and more complex, what we do in fundamental research is becoming increasingly obscure to a society, which as a result is ever less compelled to fund our work. Funding is essential for success in science. Hence, to sustain what we do, INBIONET was helping us acquire the right skills to reach out to the public and get across the significance of our research.

Dublin was an unlikely city that I would have visited of my own initiative. Suddenly there I was, meeting the INBIONET fellows from all over the world, scattered across Europe. I also met Andrew and his team at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, who would later host me for 4-months in their laboratory for a collaborative research project. The coming 3 years would be a succession of training units, workshops and progress reports for which we were whisked around Europe. These experiences will not only be life long memories, but have also served to solidify personal and professional bond, which in my opinion were essential for the success of our collaborations. Moreover the wining-and-dining were great networking opportunities with other scientist and industry partners within but also outside of the network.

As I am now wrapping up my PhD and exploring my next career options, I am realizing that INBIONET provided me with a real competitive advantage on the labour market. While any PhD provides one with scientific and technical expertise, the training units and workshops organized by INBIONET went a step beyond by exposing us to fields and topics slightly outside of our own specific focus area and have broadened our horizons. Moreover, most doctoral programs are excellent in preparing graduates for an academic career path but very often fail equip them with the tools required to make the leap from the PhD into industry. Given that INBIONET also integrated industry partners, we had the opportunity to interact and network with managers and scientists from the for-profit sector. This gave us the full perspective on the real work market outside of the cradle of academia. Last but not least, the cross-border collaborations established via INBIONET allow us today to boast our mobility and our experience in working in multinational environments.

With this, let the job hunting begin!