International mobility: WHY and HOW

Sint-Pietersabdij, Kapittelzaal, 5 December 2017


Our first event this year was dedicated to what is becoming a ‘hot topic’ in academia: international mobility. An academic career is nowadays by definition an international career. The scholar that spends his whole life in the library or in his own lab is a figure of the past. We work in international networks, publish in international journals, keep track of what is going on in our field all over the world, take part in conferences and projects abroad: modern technologies allow for it, and make it imperative. All this is not enough, though. There are skills, competencies, experiences that can be acquired only through work or research stays abroad. A whole set of ‘added values’ that will make you a more rounded researcher, and that you cannot gain by reaching out from your desk: open-mindedness, adaptability, resourcefulness, awareness of cultural and scientific differences, ...

The invited speakers discussed these and many more reasons why we should all give an international twist to our postdoctoral careers, while illustrating how we can most easily do it as postdocs of Ghent University.

If you missed it, here are the photos and some take-home messages the participants received:

Prof. Dr. Korneel Rabaey (UGent, CMET): a work experience abroad is essential if you want to affirm yourself as a scholar on the international academic scene; when you go abroad, choose for a top university, or a top research group in your field; stay long enough to be no longer a tourist; learn how things can be done differently but also bring your own experience and ways into the new context; a work stay abroad will give you more connections and access to different financial resources, besides speeding up your career and enriching your view of the world; and, last but not least... it won’t be easy, but easy life is for retirement!

Adinda Bisschop (HR generalist for VINCI Energies): the labour market is not local anymore, it is global, therefore professional careers need to be global as well; successful mobility is always secure, it can be confidently prepared in advance; leaving your comfort zone means entering the 'learning zone', which is also called 'courage zone' or 'optimal performance zone'; we are experiencing the fourth industrial revolution, adaptability and creativity are the required skills on a CV, stability, responsibility and academic skills are no longer enough!

Sofia Van Overmiere (HG generalist and business psychologist): people don’t apply for jobs anymore, but for projects, to enter the labour market you need agile minds; nothing makes your mind agile like shaking your status quo and rebuilding it again, and relocating abroad for work is the more effective way of doing this; going international is feasible even with a family, and your children will thank you for it; in the end, you just don’t know until you try, but if you don’t try you will never know what you have missed!

Dr. Dirk De Craemer (UGent DOZA): Dirk illustrated all the various funding possibilities for research stays abroad available to UGent postdocs. His slideshow was a treasure trove of information and he has agreed to share it with the participants. If your were not among them and you would like to see it, don’t hesitate to email us.