CIVICA Research Blog

CIVICA Doctoral Conference 2023: Navigating the academic job market with expert guidance

In a vibrant convergence of knowledge and ambition, the CIVICA Doctoral Conference 2023 recently unfolded from November 15 to 17 at Central European University in Vienna. Attendees, predominantly doctoral candidates and early-career researchers from across the CIVICA alliance, gathered for a comprehensive exploration into the intricacies of preparing for the academic job market. 

In its third edition, the initiative on the theme "How to Prepare Yourself for the Academic Job Market," featured a dynamic programme of 11 sessions including workshops, lectures, and a stimulating roundtable discussion. Notable experts and speakers from within and beyond the alliance shared invaluable insights on various aspects of academic career development.  

“In many European PhD programmes, candidates receive less job market training compared to their North American counterparts. CIVICA is effectively bridging this gap through its well-organised conference. I have learned to look at my documents from a hiring committee's perspective, understanding how a CV is evaluated and what the cover letter should be about. After the conference, I have already started sharing my notes with fellow PhD researchers at Bocconi, as the academic job market advice seems useful to everyone” shared Konstantin Bogatyrev, PhD candidate at Bocconi, and one of over 40 CIVICA members attending the conference on site. In addition to the physical presence, the event was livestreamed, attracting an average of 30 participants per day from various CIVICA institutions. 

The inaugural day kicked off with a warm welcome from Carsten Schneider, Pro-Rector for External Relations at CEU, and Michael Merlingen, head of the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy, and International Relations at CEU. The conference unfolded with an engaging session on "How to plan your academic career" by Annika Zorn, Director of PhD Programmes and Digital Learning at the Hertie School. Zsolt Enyedi, Professor in the Department of International Relations at CEU, followed with a session on "How to publish journal articles," providing practical tips for aspiring scholars. 
The second day of the conference delved deep into the art of crafting an effective academic persona. Sessions led by CEU scholars ranged from "How to write an effective research statement" by Jan Hennings to "How to write a convincing teaching statement" by Michael Kozakowski, and more hints on academic CV and cover letter by Judit Minczinger, Agnes Batory and Martin Kahanec. The day concluded with insights on "Evaluating Job Applications: Understanding Screening Processes" by Alex Astrov and a discussion on "Transforming Your PhD Dissertation into a Published Book" by Claudio Sopranzetti

The conference continued to build momentum on the third day with sessions such as "How to build and sustain well-rounded mentoring relationships" by Nadia Jones-Gailani from CEU and "How to do job interviews" by Angelo Martelli from The London School of Economics. The event reached its zenith with a roundtable discussion, moderated by Maria-Jose Schmidt-Kessen and Michael Merlingen. Iryna Degtyarova, Rector's Representative for Cooperation with Ukrainian Universities at SGH Warsaw School of Economics, together with CEU scholars, including Selin Cagatay, Julia Sachseder, Miranda Wu, Cristina Astier, Tomy Lee, shared their experiences and perspectives on navigating early-career job markets in research. 

Reflecting on the conference, Annika Zorn remarked, "It's inspiring to witness the enthusiasm and commitment of young researchers within the CIVICA community. The exchange of ideas and practical advice during these sessions will undoubtedly fortify their journey into the academic realm." 

The CIVICA Doctoral Conference 2023 not only provided a platform for knowledge exchange but also fostered a sense of community among participants. As the event concluded, the CIVICA community looks forward to the positive impact these insights will have on the academic journeys of its members. 

Written by Alessia Manco (CIVICA communication manager) 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101017201.