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Doctoral graduates not only have solid expertise in their research topic, but they also possess other skills that are highly beneficial in working life. TEXT ULLA KALTIALA PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN

“DOCTORAL STUDIES have equipped me

“We also want to broaden employers’

with the skills needed to adapt to change,

perceptions of doctoral graduates and

adopt new methods, and work in different

their skills.”

teams and cultures,” says Early Stage

“Cuts in the budgets of universities

Researcher Olalla Díaz-Yáñez from the

and research institutes together with in-

University of Eastern Finland School

creasingly tough competition for research

of Forest Sciences, where she is writing

funding have reduced people’s opportuni-

her PhD on the development of forestry

ties to pursue a research career. Alter-

sector risk management.

native career paths are something many

A joint initiative of five Finnish

doctoral graduates are increasingly having

universities, the TOHTOS – Developing

to think about,” Senior Lecturer Merja

the Working Life Relevance of Doctoral

Lyytikäinen says.

Training – project, wanted to showcase the skills of doctoral students by inviting 100

WORKING LIFE SKILLS AND BRANDING

students to present their expertise in vide-

are among the topics that the TOHTOS

os lasting 100 seconds. The objective of the

project has offered courses and webinars

videos and the entire project is to facilitate

on. One of the viewpoints is networking

the employment of doctoral graduates in

and how to create yourself a specialist

positions outside academia.

brand online and on social media.

The collection of videos includes 22

“The webinars offered on this topic

doctoral students from the University of

have been very interesting. Making one’s

Eastern Finland, among them Díaz-Yáñez

own expertise visible is a continuous

and university teacher Anniina Kämäräi-

process of learning and trying out new

nen. They both say that making a video

things,” Díaz-Yáñez says.

gave them a good reason to think about and list their skills and strengths in detail.

She runs her own website and is active in different social media channels, including Twitter.

“I’M INTERESTED in a research career,

“This has led to interesting discussions

but I could also utilise my expertise in

with people from outside my own field.”

data science in the private sector. Potential employers are not likely to be inter-

IDEAS FOR TRAINING TOPICS in the

ested in me based on my degree alone;

TOHTOS project were obtained from a

instead, I need to tell them what else I

survey focusing on doctoral graduates’

have to offer,” Díaz-Yáñez says.

ideas of important working life skills. As

According to Kämäräinen, it is quite

ule on working life skills will be designed

be somewhere outside academia. She is

for Finnish universities, and courses from

writing her doctoral dissertation in the

the module can be included in doctoral

field of special education.

studies.

“I use discourse analysis as my research

“We know that employers are interest-

method, and it is also useful in other con-

ed in the expertise of doctoral graduates.

texts than research, such as in different

The university could facilitate these links

development projects.”

through mentoring, for example, or by

In her video, Kämäräinen also lists

asking companies for real-life issues that

the meta-skills she has learned as a

researchers could solve during summer

researcher, such as project management,

school. Networking with companies could

time management, funding acquisition,

also be a course assignment,” Lyytikäinen

creative problem-solving, tolerance of

and Väänänen say.

insecurity and interaction skills. Both Anniina Kämäräinen and Olalla Díaz-Yáñez say making a video gave them a reason to stop and think about their professional strengths.

an outcome of the project, a training mod-

likely that her career after graduation will

The TOHTOS project is coordinated

According to Coordinator Kristii-

by the University of Tampere, and the

na Väänänen, who is in charge of the

partners are the University of Eastern

TOHTOS project’s communications, this

Finland, the University of Turku, the

kind of reflection is exactly what the video

University of Vaasa and the University of

project wanted to achieve.

Oulu.

UEF BULLETIN 2018 45

UEF Bulletin 2018  
UEF Bulletin 2018