First ever PhD retreat organised in Luxembourg

2016 - 07 - 01

First ever PhD retreat organised in Luxembourg

The PhD retreat “Life after PhD”, organised on 21th June 2016, aimed to give PhD candidates a glimpse into different career paths for PhD holders. The event was an initiative taken by Sean Sapcariu from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and Anne Dirkse from LIH, two PhD representatives of the Doctoral School in Systems and Molecular Biomedicine of the University of Luxembourg. It received financial support by the doctoral school, the LCSB and LIH.

As PhD candidates are constantly being under pressure for applying for funding, reporting on their project progress and publishing their results, it can be difficult for them to research on the various career opportunities available to them after graduation. For the proportion of doctoral candidates who do not want to continue their career in academia, the PhD retreat was a great opportunity to explore alternative options.

The PhD retreat started with a round table discussion on the PhD experience in Luxembourg, led by Ulrike Kohl, Head of Talent Attraction & Capacity Building at the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), Prof Serge Haan, Head of the Doctoral School in Systems and Molecular Biomedicine, and Prof Rudi Balling, Director of the LCSB. The further programme of the retreat consisted of workshops focused on careers in industry, project management, public outreach or teaching, and which gave the participants the possibility to get involved, actively discuss and network with the experts.

The overwhelming participation and positive response from over 60 biomedical PhD candidates and nearly 30 guests, showed that career opportunities after a PhD are not only an important topic, but that PhD holders also have an interesting collection of skills acquired through their doctoral studies, which they can valorise on the job market. ‘I am really happy about how many PhD candidates and guests were excited to participate in the retreat. The atmosphere was positive and the discussions were fantastic’, says organiser Sean Sapcariu.

At the end of the day, it may not have made the decision of PhD candidates for their future career aspirations easier, but it gave them the assurance and motivation that they can build their own careers if they engage themselves. ‘Come out of your comfort zone, be proactive and do what you like! Start taking your future into your own hands and don’t let others decide what you should do’, stresses Prof Rudi Balling.


The PhD retreat was held in the chapel of the Neumünster Abbey in Luxembourg City.


Round table discussion on the PhD experience in Luxembourg. From left to right: Prof Serge Haan, Ulrike Kohl, Prof Rudi Balling, Sean Sapcariu.