In preparation for the "ERA Mobility and Career Day" event slated for November 2017, the CEU Career Services Office hosted a preparatory event, entitled Careers in Research on May 23.
The presentations on EURAXESS services and RESAVER were followed by an informal meet-up with CEU alumni currently working in research in Europe, returning to CEU to talk to students and young researchers about their experience, successes and challenges on the research job market, and to share their advice.
Adam Molnar, head of the Academic Networking Department at Bay Zoltan Nonprofit Ltd. for Applied Research, was invited to meet CEU students and graduates and talk to them about the EURAXESS.
Molnar introduced the new portal that accommodates researchers, institutions and entrepreneurs, allowing them to interact with each other. He also talked about the improved tools for jobs or partnership search, as well as new features like the Career Development or Science4Refugees. The Hungarian EURAXES website was also mentioned by Molnar, as a good source for finding local support centers that students or early career researchers can turn to.
An initiative aimed at assisting mobile researchers in Europe, RESAVER has been presented by Gabriela Kemeny, director of the Human Resources Office at CEU. Kemeny encouraged students to start thinking about their financial plans and pensions early in their career as international researchers.
The event continued with a 90-minutes panel discussion with CEU alumni working in international research, who were invited to share their experience in the job market.
Maya Fadeeva Koleva (School of Public Policy '09) worked as a journalist before joining CEU. Soon after graduation she was employed as a media research analyst at a British private company, progressing to a project manager position within less than five years, now working on social media and social network analysis and research, for public and corporate entities.
After graduating from CEU in 2011, Dragos Adascalitei (Political Science '11) continued with a PhD at the University of Mannheim, returning to CEU in 2013 as a Marie Curie researcher - a position he found on the EURAXESS portal. He also spent six months at the International Labour Organization and he is currently back at CEU as post-doc at the Center for Policy Studies. While valuing the freedom that academic environment provides, Adascalitei talked briefly about the tough competition on the academic job market and the "precarious" situation caused by frequent moving and relatively short-term assignments. Adascalitei shared details about the PhD education in Germany, the extensive funding possibilities and the involvement in project-based tasks.
Milica Raznatovic (Nationalism Studies '15) has been working as a public policy researcher at the Institute Alternative think tank in Montenegro since January 2016. After 45-50 job applications in different parts of the world, she applied successfully for the Think Tank Fund from Open Society Foundations. She said that she is now working in an organization that "values continuous training and international experience."
Amila Kurtovic graduated from the Department of Legal Studies in July 2016 and immediately started to work at Analytica Think Tank, doing policy research in Human Rights and Public Administration. "With all my research-related tasks it feels like extending my LLM," she said. Kurtovic worked with the organization while writing her thesis, and then approached them inquiring about employment opportunities – a very unusual practice among the job seekers in Bosnia – just to find out the think tank has been founded by two CEU alumni.
Kurtovic mentioned the support received as a student from the CEU Career Services Team that helped her assess her strengths, and search jobs that capitalize better on her skills and aspirations than the typical jobs graduates from legal studies usually follow.
Asked about what they have learned at CEU that proved to be useful in their careers, Raznatovic mentioned good time management and organizing skills, while Koleva indicated student participation at courses that improved her presentation skills and the intensive training in research methods as critical now in her job. Kurtovic emphasized CEU's focus on academic writing, which gave her a clear advantage in her current job.
According to all speakers, networking plays a very important role in career building. "Explore the employers of your connections," "take a year off and acquire hands-on experience in non-profits before starting a PhD," "don't shy away from offers that allow you to develop professionally even if they do not seem to be the 'dream job," - were some of the pieces of advice shared during the discussion.
Asked about the amount of research activities in their current jobs, all alumni estimated it at 60-80%, emphasizing how useful the different methodologies they learned as students are. They said that research training is a real asset when they need to present clients qualitative and quantitative data in a convincing way. Besides research, alumni talked about one of the inevitable challenges of their works, administration tasks, a necessary part of almost all jobs.