CIVICA Research Blog

CIVICA Doctoral Conference: Spotlight on the 2022 edition hosted by SSE

Over the three-day event, 18 participants took part in eight sessions covering a wide range of topics on searching and applying for an academic position: from how to write a cover letter to how to prepare research and teaching statements. All sessions and workshops were led by experts and lecturers from CIVICA partner institutions.

Professor Marina Henke, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Centre for International Security at the Hertie School, started off the first session of the conference on “How to Plan your Academic Career”. “You have to develop your identity” she emphasized, explaining that focusing on a specific topic can allow the researcher to be viewed as an expert in their field. Prof. Henke covered many vital points that would give researchers the best chance at success, ending her session with a final piece of advice “be good to yourself.” Since academia can be difficult to navigate, she stressed the importance of setting boundaries and allowing time in your life for other things, such as hobbies.

Participants used this event to build up a community of like-minded peers which could support their academic career moving forward. As Professor Laurence Romani, Director of the Center for Responsible Leadership and CIVICA academic lead at SSE, puts it “the group became a place for learning, sharing and support, and the social time we had together with dinners and more strengthen the solidarity among the participants."

Throughout the conference, there was an effort to strengthen multidisciplinary perspectives. Faculty members present represented the diversity of disciplines within the social sciences and across the alliance. This was especially highlighted during a panel discussion in which researchers were present and shared their experiences and challenges linked to the job market. This made an impression on the participants, with Aurélie Villanueva, PhD researcher at the EUI Department of Law, mentioning “most speakers had different backgrounds and were at different stages in their careers, which allowed us to have an overview of different practices across academic fields.”

Dr. Victoria Finn, Max Weber Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and affiliated with GLOBALCIT at the EUI, spoke on the panel, "Shared Experiences from CIVICA Early Career Researchers on Navigating the Job Market". She comments, "The CIVICA conference offered a supportive ambiance and much advice to a small group of enthusiastic PhD researchers; something I wish I had had during my PhD!”

The conference enabled participants to develop an understanding of what to expect after their PhD and set them up for the best chance at success. “This experience will help us to be more prepared for facing the obstacles and challenges of academic life” said Gabriela Guiu, PhD researcher in Communication Sciences at SNSPA. “Meetings, workshops, and the exchange of experiences completely changed my view on many issues and also showed me the necessary steps that I should take to develop my academic career” shared Norbert Duczkowski, PhD researcher in Finance at SGH Warsaw School of Economics.

Written by Dania Abu-Sharkh (CIVICA Communications Team, Hertie School)

Photo credits: Elena Braccia and Paul Rosenbaum (SSE PhD Team)

CIVICA Research brings together researchers from eight leading European universities in the social sciences to contribute knowledge and solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. The project aims to strengthen the research & innovation pillar of the European University alliance CIVICA. CIVICA Research is co-funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101017201.