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Funding & Background

In 2017, Forschungszentrum Jülich successfully applied for funding to establish a Helmholtz Career Development Center for Researchers (Career Center). This measure is financed from the Initiative and Networking Fund and initially provides funding for developing HCDCRs to three selected centres of the Helmholtz Association: the German Cancer Research Center, Forschungszentrum Jülich, and the German Research Center for Environmental Health (Helmholtz Zentrum München). They will each receive up to € 150,000 per year. The funding will be provided for a period of 5 years, with an interim evaluation after 2.5 years.

In terms of timing and content, this call for proposals for Helmholtz Career Development Centers for Reseachers closely aligns with Jülich’s Strategy Process, in which the issue of career development and early-career scientists was given high priority. During a strategy conference involving more than 200 Jülich colleagues, the topic was identified as particularly important for the future of Forschungszentrum Jülich, and a working group was initiated.

The Jülich postdoc guidelines resulting from this Strategy Process were developed amid widespread participation of all actors and target groups. They address the importance of planning careers and include the recommendation to have a personal development plan which should detail the scientific priority tasks, scope of work, and working conditions of a newly employed postdoc, as well as any training needs. They serve as a basis for exchange between postdocs and their senior employees. In addition to discussions with superiors, we recommend overarching career counselling services for individuals, which are a great support in the orientation, advancement, and active planning of a career.

A survey conducted among postdocs in autumn 2016 addressed the need for career-relevant services at Forschungszentrum Jülich. It further emphasized the general demand for systematic career counselling. Although early-career scientists are generally still in a phase of orientation in terms of what career to pursue in the short or long term, many of them indicated in the survey that they wished to work in science in the medium term. This is at odds with the number of positions available in the science system, i.e. many of those who want to stay in science in the medium term will be unable to do so.

Another indication of the importance of this topic became apparent during a workshop conducted by Forschungszentrum Jülich, which involved 25 women scientists and concerned suitable career support for female early-career scientists. The women, who were scientists from all levels of hierarchy, agreed that the early development of a plan and professional advice would be very useful especially for the career development of women as a target group.

Additional Information

Press release

Jülich, 20 July 2018
Career Advice for Postdocs

Jülich 16 July 2017
New Building Block for Career Development