Why a Career Center for researchers?
International studies about pre- and post-docs such as the Nature Graduate Survey 2017 show that about 75% of young researchers aspire to a career in academia. However, studies have also shown that only 0.5% of young researchers secure a position as a full professor and more than 75% of young researchers must or want to leave academia.
The situation at the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG), which employs around 250 pre- and post-docs (of a total of 550 employees), is even more unique because about 70% of the pre- and post-docs have a fixed-term employment contract and most of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes (LBI) are created only temporarily. The LBG established the Career Center in October 2016 with the aim to support the pre- and post-docs in their continuing career development. During their time at the LBG, pre- and post-docs need time for (self-) reflection, for furthering their training of additional competencies, as well as for networking outside academia to be optimally prepared for a possible career path change.
What does the LBG Career Center provide?
The LBG Career Center is the first point of contact for all questions concerning career development in and outside of academia that pre- and post-docs as well as institute directors may have. It is the responsibility of the LBG Career Center to provide confidential advice and accompany its young researchers in the selection and implementation of individual services and to develop concepts as well as organize institutional services. It also implements quality assurance measures and networks with relevant communities in science and business. The LBG Career Center was funded by the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development and is located at the LBG offices.
Structured programs that assist young researchers during the transition from academia to an alternative career path have so far not existed in Austria. A few exemplary projects do exist on the international level (e.g., Vitae in the UK), which have inspired some of the LBG Career Center concepts in the beginning. However, it is the LBG’s vision to assume a pioneering role so that the services developed and tested here, once they have received positive evaluations, can also be implemented in other research organizations or universities.
What is the objective of the LBG Career Center?
The LBG Career Center aims to improve the career perspectives of pre- and post-docs especially in sectors outside of academia. Another role the LBG Career Center is tasked with is to be a sparring partner for the institute directors and to support them in their role as the supervisors in charge of pre- and post-docs (from 2019 with the LAB – Leadership Academy Boltzmann). It is the mission of the LBG Career Center to achieve the following concrete goals and positive side effects:
- Provide insight into alternative career paths outside of academia – generate a more self-confident appearance of pre- and post-docs (experts and executives) on the labor market
- Prepare and qualify pre- and post-docs for the job market outside of academia – promote the self-image of pre- and post-docs and influence the way that they are perceived outside academia
- Promote openness and networking – LBG as „Think & Do Tank for intersectoral career development“ / active link between partner organizations in science and business
- Foster a more intensive science knowledge transfer to business and society and vice versa – LBG as a multiplicator and responsible employer
Who makes up the target group of the LBG Career Center?
In the beginning, the target group of the LBG Career Center were about 250 pre- and post-docs of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes. Recently the target group has expanded to include young researchers from partner organizations and other research organizations and universities who want to develop their careers further and receive structured support to do so. From 2019, the LBG Career Center also addresses the directors of the LBI.
What are the services of the LBG Career Center?
Activities of the LBG Career Center comprise of services that are either available on the individual level (e.g., Potential Analysis, Coaching, Career Consulting, Start-Up Advice) or on the institutional level (e.g., Career Workshops, Expert Talks, Skills Trainings, Expert Internships and other Special Programs), aiming to foster both the further development of the individual and of the LBG organization overall . Based on a systematic analysis (expert interviews with institute directors and focus groups with pre- and post-doc representatives) conducted at the end of 2016, concrete services have been developed and are implemented while continuing to be refined.
What are the costs and rules within the LBG Career Center?
For LBG pre- and post-docs the LBG Career Center services are offered free of charge, i.e., they are funded by the LBG Career Center, and are open until 3 months after the end of the employment contract. After that, there are special offers for CC Alumni and LBG Alumni.
For external pre- and post-docs from other research institutions or universities, the LBG Career Center offers the Career Cake, which includes selected services. The professional implementation of the services hinges on the establishment of a standardized process, confidentiality on the individual level, and transparency on the institutional level. The individual services should be available during working hours, but largely without the involvement of the supervisor. The institutional services that may disrupt work at the Institutes, i.e., the participation in Special Programs, require the agreement of a supervisor. The contents of conversations conducted on the individual level (coaching, etc.) will neither be shared with the institute directors nor with the LBG Career Center (confidentiality is our top priority). In the interest of quality assurance and the further development of our services, (anonymous) feedback options are available to the pre- and post-docs as well as to the experts contributing to the LBG Career Center (coaches, etc.).
What is the career concept of the LBG Career Center?
From our perspective, having a career means developing yourself professionally and not to have others develop you. Consequently, career development is always the result of collaboration between pre- or post-docs, institute directors, and the LBG Career Center that requires self-responsibility on the part of the pre- and post-docs. The aim is to make certain that pre- and post-docs have the option to seize successful career paths as experts or executives in both academia and business, in the public sector, or as entrepreneurs. After all, every career path offers its own rewards.