Course made young researchers reflect on their career paths

Empower your talent made 30 PhD students and Postdoctoral fellows reflect upon their career paths. The course also reminded them of the importance of balancing your life and working with meaningful matters.

Louise Linde, University of Southern Denmark & Omeed Neghabat, Aarhus University Hospital.

Empower Your Talent was held 11th - 12th of November at Radisson Blue Hotel in Aarhus. Thirty hopeful PhDs and Postdoctoral fellows participated desiring to gain inspiration to career paths and how to reach their career dreams.

“As a PhD student we are used to sit in small offices shoulder by shoulder. Joining this course reminded me that I am part of something bigger as a member of the DCAcademy and being a cardiovascular researcher,” says Omeed Neghabat, PhD student at Aarhus University Hospital.

“You should find your niche”

The first day presented the participants to three different career paths. Thomas Holm was the first on stage. He is a physiologist and has founded NMD Pharma developing drugs for people living with neuromuscular diseases. Asked what the driver was for founding such a company, Thomas Holm instantly replied – “science and the potential for science to change people’s lives to the better.”

Mads Damkjær followed. He has a medical career as paediatrician. At one point in his career, he lacked time dedicated to research and found a new position as pediatrician in Kolding, complying with his wishes. His advice to the students was to find out what they care about and not to be afraid of changing career paths.

Finally, cardiologist Finn Gustafsson came on stage. He is very passionate about his research on the artificial heart, which he hopes in the future will give us an alternative to heart transplantation.

“You should find your niche, was clear to me after these presentations. And also, that it is important to sometimes reflect on whether you are on the right shelf,” said Louise Linde, PhD student, University of Southern Denmark.

Anne Kaltoft, CEO at the Danish Heart Foundation wrapped up the first part, by giving us facts on cardiovascular disease from the patient perspective.

Work-life balance does not exist

Thereafter, the course shifted its focus to career choices and how to create meaningfulness in life. We all got a wakeup call when philosopher Morten Albæk took the stage. He instantly killed the myth about “work-life balance”. In his opinion work-life balance does not exist. As we cannot be one person at work and another at home. He concluded that we have one life and one time, and that time should be consumed in a meaningful way.

“I am used to think in very specific terms. It was interesting to be presented to an entirely different way of thinking by Morten Albæk and it made me reflect on the bigger questions in life,” said Omeed Neghabat, PhD student at Aarhus University Hospital.

He continues:

“I really enjoyed the combination of science with more philosophical matters. Research should not only be statistics and protocols. However, we do not learn about life balance through an EKG course. Therefore, the combination was very fruitful to me.”

The day ended with dinner, networking and a lecture on music in the brain and jazz music by Peter Vuust and Veronica Mortensen. On the second day, career development was the focal point. Vibeke Broe from Aarhus University and Mette Fog Skriver from University of Copenhagen gave advices on how to structure your career. The participants then worked in groups discussing how they would be able to reach their career goals.

The course broadened the participants’ network

“The course made me reflect upon my career and how it will fit into the rest of my life. However, the best thing was the network that it gave me. I have met doctors, molecular researchers, an engineer and even a veterinarian. It was rewarding to hear about their research and the methods they use” said Louise Linde, PhD student, University of Southern Denmark.