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
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
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.
“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
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 45