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Dutch postdocs treated like royalty

Thanks in part to our linkurl:Best Places to Work as a Postdoc;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/3/1/53/1/ surveys, 150 postdocs throughout The Netherlands will be spending three days in a four-star hotel in Bergen. That's according to Peter Peters, dean of postdoc affairs at linkurl:The Netherlands Cancer Institute;http://www.nki.nl/, which just won a 100,000-euro grant from linkurl:The Association of Dutch Universities;http://www.vsnu.nl/web/show/id=40917/langid=42 to expand its training progr

By | June 15, 2007

Thanks in part to our linkurl:Best Places to Work as a Postdoc;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/3/1/53/1/ surveys, 150 postdocs throughout The Netherlands will be spending three days in a four-star hotel in Bergen. That's according to Peter Peters, dean of postdoc affairs at linkurl:The Netherlands Cancer Institute;http://www.nki.nl/, which just won a 100,000-euro grant from linkurl:The Association of Dutch Universities;http://www.vsnu.nl/web/show/id=40917/langid=42 to expand its training program nationwide. The cancer institute ranked 11th in our linkurl:survey in 2006;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/3/1/55/1/, which was a drop from its third-place finish in 2005. Still, Peters credits the survey in helping bring attention to inadequate postdoc training in his country. When Peters surveyed institute postdocs, he found that 80% of postdocs want a tenure-track position in academia. Only 15%, however, will ever get one. "They are all pipetting in the lab, and listening to the boss and very rarely do they think about their own future. They think that once I have my Cell or Nature paper, I have my career," says Peters. "Postdocs", he says, "need to know what other options they have, and how to best prepare themselves for positions outside of academia." That's where linkurl:his program;http://www.postdoc-development.eu/ comes in. For three days, postdocs learn about presentation and lab management skills, how to set up collaborations, and interview applicants. They also learn about technology transfer and how to sell their abilities, rather than just their research. Peters brings in seasoned scientists who speak about their experiences as scientific entrepreneurs, and tries to open postdocs up to the possibility of working outside of academia. The days are filled with seminars and workshops, but the evenings are dedicated to socializing and fun. The first night a group of cabaret actors from Amsterdam impersonates the post-docs in an improvisational play. The second night, groups of ten students discuss their five-year career plans over beer. The next day, they must formally present their plans in front of the group, where their peers select the best presentation. "Most scientists, " says Peters, "have not acquired the skill to sell themselves." With interest in his program outpacing available space, the one-year grant will help fund two to three more retreats per year for postdocs across the country. And he?s not stopping with the Netherlands. Peters says he's talking with other European countries about ways to improve postdoctoral training across the EU, and he's starting with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which ranked 35th in our 2006 survey, as well as other high ranking institutes on our linkurl:list;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/3/1/55/1/. Keep an eye out for our Best Places to Work surveys throughout the year. Next up is our salary survey, which goes live soon.
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Mettler Toledo
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences