Graduate School Graubünden

October 25, 2019 – October 28, 2019

Finding opportunities outside the university and building applications

Whether at a European or a Swiss level, whether over the short- or long-term, research repeatedly shows that the vast majority of PhDs will develop their careers on paths other than professorship. Every year, more and more talented and capable PhDs find themselves questioning their next steps: where to turn, what to do, and where to begin? While these questions are often driven by pragmatic concerns of limited opportunities in academia, they are also motivated by a wide range of issues, such as wanting to have a direct impact on society, access a broader panoply of potential career paths, the desire to leave research and/or teaching, or more pragmatically, the greater possibility of stable, long- term and well-paid contracts, offering better work/life balance.

This two-day workshop is focused on the tools to help doctoral candidates develop clarification on their own capabilities, interests and motivations, better comprehend the job market and employment context, and be able to investigate and increase the opportunities for a career path in the environment and role that best suits them.

The emphasis in the workshop is to equip participants with the tools with which each individual can recognize their particular interests, their goals and their specific approach, and to be able to then put these tools to work for their career development. Given the highly intensive nature of the workshop, participants should understand that this is a “first step” in their career transition and that they will need to continue the work independently.

The workshop includes time for reflection and self-examination, as well as practical work developing career tools such as the CV and cover letter, online profiles, and active research into skills identification and career opportunities. Provision is made for participants to request the award of 1 ECTS from their home university, with the completion of an additional post-workshop assignment.

TRAINERVerity Elston, Portfolio Formation
DATES & TIMEFriday, October 25, 2019 & Monday, October 28, 2019 (both days: 08:45 am to 04:45 pm)
LANGUAGEThe seminar will be held in English. Written material presented to the trainer for feedback may be completed in English, French or Italian.

  • Reviewing the employment environment and career development paths for PhDs

  • Identifying skills, interests and motivations:
    – Building an inventory of the transferable, technical and scientific skills developed over the course of the participant’s individual experience, and the vocabulary with which to express them.
    – The interests and motivations that drive personal choices, better understanding the types of employment environments to which each person is suited.
    – Giving quantitative and qualitative scale to professional experience, measuring individual achievements and contribution beyond the academic scale of number and quality of publications.

  • Reading job ads:
    – Reviewing relevant job ads in the public and private sectors, recognizing key words and understanding an employer’s needs in relation to individual experience.

  • CVs and Cover Letters:
    – The steps to building adapted and relevant application dossiers.
    – General advice, tips and cautions, deciding and organizing the content.

Transfer Work
Over the weekend, participants will be required to create an adapted CV and cover letter on the basis of a job ad that they have already identified or that has been provided as a sample during the first day. Participants will need to provide two printed copies of their work (CV, letter and job ad) for review on the Monday morning.


  • Feedback session on CVs and cover letters: plenary and in small groups to provide constructive suggestions for improvement.

  • References and employment certificates

  • Interviews:
    – Essential elements of preparation, interview formats, different interviewers and their typical questions.
    – Responding to self-presentation and behavior questions.
    – Responding to salary and “children” questions.

  • Building connections, finding information, being “in the right place, at the right time”:
    – Networking as a constructive, positive activity, making connections and building relationships within and outside academia.
    – Developing a professional network through existing contacts and finding new areas of potential.
    – Questions to ask for informational interviews, managing meetings with second-degree contacts.
    – Creating a mutual support group with interested workshop participants (self-driven, post-workshop).

  • Online and additional resources: presentation and discussion:
    – Online presence and professional network profiles.
    – Not just informational interviewing: additional resources to enable “big picture” understanding.

  • Presenting oneself as more than a PhD

  • Research skills for career development:
    – Structuring and scheduling individual career development, defining objectives.
    – Identifying personal next steps.
TARGET AUDIENCEThis workshop is open to doctoral candidates and postdocs from member institutions of Academia Raetica.
CONTACT Course Coordinator: Daniela Heinen, , phone 081 410 60 80
CREDIT POINTSThe workload including preparation and homework will be approximately 24-26 hours.
Additional Assignment for ECTS equivalence (30 hours):
Participants who complete an additional assignment following the training will have completed 30 hours and thus be able to present their work to their degree- awarding institution for consideration for one ECTS credit.
For this assignment, participants will submit a learning statement (approx. 800 words) in the two weeks following the close of the workshop. This statement will include a reflection on the key learnings they take with them with regard to their career development, what they understand to be their key strengths as they consider their next career steps, and their short- and long-term goals they have identified that will enable those steps to be taken.
Please consult your supervisor at your university, if the course counts towards ECTS.
COURSE CERTIFICATEYou will receive a certificate of attendance, if you attend the entire course.
REGISTRATIONSign up here. Deadline for registration: October 11, 2019. You will receive a confirmation of your registration within a few days after your registration.
CANCELLATION POLICYWe ex­pect you to be pre­sent for the full du­ra­ti­on of the cour­se. Please see our Terms of Participation for details. (Terms in German)
COSTThe course fee is CHF 150 for the entire course. The amount is payable ten days prior to the course. You will receive an invoice and our bank details in due time.

In addition to her role as trainer and coach of her own company Portfolio Formation Sàrl, Verity Elston manages the careers advice service for PhDs and postdocs at the University of Lausanne Graduate Campus. She also serves on the European board of the Pride Network of university professionals in doctoral education. Her previous experience includes leading the CUSO Transversal Program in transferable skills and as deputy to the dean of the EPFL Doctoral School. Her broader professional background in the private and public sectors in several countries includes middle- and high-level recruitment.
Verity holds a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, the FSEA/SVEB Certificate in Adult Learning, the ACC Certificate in Integral Coaching, and is a certified consultant for the TRIMA psychometric test. She conducts ongoing qualitative and quantitative research and analysis on careers for doctorate holders in Switzerland and in Europe more generally.

Course outline 07-19 Creating the job hunting package (PDF)