Report: Non-academic careers
Professor Thomas Welskopp, deputy director at the BGHS, welcomed the participants of the event. Foto: Thomas Abel
What happens after finishing the PhD? Where can I work with my qualifications? How could I find a job which is related to my research? Is this only possible in an academic environment? And what is expected from me in a non-academic job?
These questions were discussed at the event “Non-academic careers for historians and social scientists”. The discussants were not only members of the BGHS and the university, but also representants from institutions which were not related to the university.
These were in particular:
• Rafael Barth, freelancing science journalist
• Jan Carstensen und Mathis Kleinitz, LWL-Freilichtmuseum Detmold
• Heike Herold, LWL Kulturabteilung
• Helen Müller, Bertelsmann, Department Cultural Affairs & Coporate History
• Tomislav Novoselac, Claas Unternehmensarchiv
• Thomas Podranski, Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung
• Kirsten John-Stucke, Kreismuseum Wewelsburg
• Hilde Schaeper, Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung
The goal of the event was to give all participants the chance to discuss ways of making career in the non-academic business sector and to learn from people who made it from the university into this sector how the expectations look like.
Dr. Hilde Schaeper (DZHW) describes how she started with PhD a career outside the university. Foto: Thomas Abel
Dr. Helen Müller (Bertelsmann) during her input.Foto: Thomas Abel
First, the guests from The beginning of these impressions could be made in the introductory round, where all non-university guests deliver an insight into the institution they are now working in and how they have come to their current position. Dr. Hilde Schaeper from the German Center for Higher Education and Science Research (DZHW) and Dr. Helen Müller, who heads Bertelsmann's Cultural Affairs and Corporate History department, went into more details about the expectations of work in her companies and where the doctorate could benefit.
Participants discuss expectations of the non-university labuor market.Foto: Thomas Abel
Discussions in World Café format
The discussions were deepened after the break. In the "World Cafe" format, the participants of the event came together in changing small groups to discuss various theses on the importance of a doctorate for a non-university career. The theses were in detail:
1) Additional skills are more important than the topic of the dissertation.
2) It is almost impossible to get into non-university occupational fields.
3) A doctorate from humanities qualifies primarily for a career in academic.
4) Non-university work and academic work do not match.
Results of the discussions
In the concluding discussion, the discussions that emerged among the participants around the theses were then presented.
The thesis "additional skills are more important than the topic of the dissertation" was here largely approved. However, exceptions are occupations in special areas such as at the Wewelsburg, where promotion issues related to National Socialism are preferred. Another result is that the doctoral process itself is a qualification, but it has to be spliten into its component for non-university employers.
For the thesis, "it is almost impossible to get into non-university occupational fields", there was hardly any agreement among the participants. Rather, it was emphasized that staying at the university is much more difficult. In order to facilitate the transition to the non-university environment, it is recommended, according to the results of the group, to establish contacts in the potential occupational field even before completing the dissertation.
The fact that a doctorate from humanities primarily qualifies for a career in academic was again supported. The main topic of discussion was whether the doctorate is still important as a status symbol, because with increasing numbers of doctoral candidates, a doctorate is needed to "be part of". Furthermore, the discussing doctoral candidates noticed that the term "career" means a form of planned ascent, which most of them have not seen before.
The thesis "Non-university work and academic work do not match " was dismissed very quickly. The work for museums alone would be a counterexample. In addition, according to the discussion, the new generation of academics is better able to "convert" their acquired skills from the academic process into non-university skills. That would make it easier for them to connect to the non-university occupational field than it was to previous generations.
To translate the acquired qualifications
As a synthesis of all theses discussions, it was concluded that the challenge for a non - university career is to break down the qualifications that have been acquired and taken for granted through a doctorate into individual terms so that they can be used for employers in the non-university occupational field.
The event at WDR 5
The event was also reported in the WDR 5 program Leonardo . BGHS Executive Manager Sabine Schäfer, doctoral candidate Klaus Schröder and Tomislav Novoselac from the Claas corporate archive are speaking. The feature starts at minute 59:50. Link:
[WDR 5 Leonardo mp3]