PhD Job Day 2018

The Afstudeerbeurs in Ghent

The Afstudeerbeurs (job fair), which took place on On March 27 2018 in Ghent, was a great opportunity for the PhD students of the Transuniv university partners to explore their interests and possibilities for their future careers.

The ComUE LNF and UNAMUR had organized a shuttle to accompany their PhD students to this job fair for young researchers in Ghent. Janssen Pharmaceutica, Solvay, Lauwers & Seutin Fiscale Advocaten, the Bpost, and more than a hundred other companies were there to meet them. It was a “one of a kind” event: an entire floor dedicated to companies looking for PhDs and PhD students.

According to Fréderique Backaert of PI Life & Science, PI Life & Science tends to hire PhDs for their experience in project management, their open-mindedness, their great thinking skills, and their solid problem-solving skills. Representatives of the Eastman Chemical Company also hoped to recruit PhDs, whom they see as "super" employees because of their research experience, their specific knowledge and their managerial skills.

It was thus a great opportunity for participants to explore their interests and career options as well as to discover new ones. They had the opportunity to refine their job search, to increase their network and to discover how to improve their future job interviews. They also had the opportunity to participate in workshops specifically tailored to their profile. The most popular workshops were: "The secret revealed: As a PhD, how to find the perfect job?" , "Go brand yourself! Use personal branding to overcome the perception of over-qualification", "Leaving Academia: perceived obstacles and how to overcome them, and" Research Opportunities in the USA "(presented by B.A.E.F. & Fulbright).

In addition, human resources representatives were present to offer young researchers CV analysis in order to help them sell the skills they have acquired during their PhD studies and make their CV more attractive to recruiters.

During the event, the TRANSUNIV team conducted a survey among the participating companies on their motivations for recruiting PhDs. Here is a summary of the survey:

1.    "Why do you recruit PhDs and what is their added value compared to a candidate who has a master's degree?"

-    Experience in project management
-    Great ability to analyze complex problems
-    Critical thinking skills
-    Problem-solving skills
-    Clarity and effectiveness of oral communication (important for clients) and written communication (important for reports)
-    Maturity
-    Research methodology

2.    "Do PhDs lack certain skills?

-    Some companies see PhDs as candidates who are too critical towards their work. Constant reassessment in research hampers the rapid decision-making necessary in business. The same qualities pointed out by companies (ability to think critically and analyze complex problems) can become a handicap if they are not balanced properly. As a PhD you thus must be be careful to adapt to how things work in a company which is quite different to what you may have been used to in research.

3.    "Any advice for PhD students?"

-    "Go outside, do not stay at your desk but take on internships in companies"


This event is part of the TRANSUNIV (Interreg) project which aims to facilitate and promote the mobility and professional integration of young PhD students in the France-Wallonia-Flanders cross-border area.
Local companies from different regions were therefore invited to participate in this job day. Among other things, 13 local companies from the Province of West Flanders (E-Bo Entreprises, Pepsico, Plopsa Studio, FLIR ITS, etc.) attended in the hope of meeting young researchers from the cross-border area.