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Once upon a time, there was a Franco-German branch office...

ABG started its collaboration with the Franco-German University (FGU) in March 2008, 10 years ago. On this special occasion, we asked former participants, colleagues and partners to tell us what this collaboration means for them. Let's discover the testimonials of those who made this adventure possible!


About the project

Testimonials of partners: ABG, FGU, Science and Technology Department of the French Embassy in Germany

Testimonials of ABG-FGU project managers

Testimonials of former participants

Photo gallery

About the project

The creation of the French-German branch office ABG-FGU in March 2008 was based on meeting two needs: those of the French-German University (FGU), which wanted to offer its doctoral candidates a career support service, and those of ABG, which wanted to strengthen its European dimension to better meet the expectations of PhDs more and more mobile.

The branch office is thus French-German on several levels:

  • in the way it works, with the best of both cultures;
  • in its audience, which covers both FGU doctoral candidates and all doctoral candidates and PhDs interested in moving to one of the two countries;
  • in its network, which brings together public and private organisations on both sides of the Rhine;
  • in its bilateral knowledge of the research and innovation landscape and its funding;
  • in their knowledge of professional codes, in particular as regards the recruitment of PhDs.

All this bilateral experience now allows the branch office to be active on the European level, making ABG and FGU models of internationalisation for the training and support of doctoral candidates.                                                                   


Testimonials of partners

Dr Vincent Mignotte – Executive Director, ABG

"International plays an important role in the careers of many PhDs: it was therefore logical for ABG to develop international actions and the creation of the Franco-German branch office ABG-FGU in March 2008 is a good example. Its development now enables us to envisage and implement broader collaborations at European level, with Luxembourg, Italy or Spain for example.

If I were to define the branch office, I would say that it is above all a bridge: between France and Germany, between the academic sector and the socio-economic sector, between candidates and recruiters, between early-stage researchers and experienced PhDs. It is also a desire to connect and work together a whole network of European partners, around complementary experiences, around common challenges and values. And always in a friendly and professional atmosphere!

Finally, I must thank all those who have contributed to the development of the antenna: the ABG and FGU teams, the participants with varied and exciting professional backgrounds, and the speakers who give their time to share their experience and practical advice.

My wish for the next 10 years? Transpose the ABG-FGU branch office model to other geographical areas to accompany more and more mobile PhDs!"


How do the ABG team see the Franco-German branch office?

Dr Jochen Hellmann - General Secretary, Franco-German University

"For more than nine years, almost from the very beginning, I have been actively and with interest following the development of the ABG-FGU. During this time many new event formats have been developed with creativity and persistence. Throughout its entire duration, the focus has always been on a dual objective: on the one hand, to bring the doctorate closer to a broad public as a particularly demanding degree that offers excellent qualifications for complex fields of activity of all kinds (and not only science in the narrow sense). And on the other hand to present this "message" in a decidedly Franco-German context.

What do I want for the next 10 years? Maybe this: In addition to continuing the development of new formats, the branch office should contribute to the realization that multilingualism, i.e. the mastery of more than one's mother tongue and English as a matter of course, is part of the baggage of European graduates and young professionals. English must be mastered, but German and French should at least be understood and read. PhDs should take this to heart."

How do the FGU team see the Franco-German branch office?

Dr Jean-Jacques Pierrat, Nicolas Cluzel - Department for Science and Technology, French Embassy in Berlin

"It was during a discussion with the head of the ABG-UFA branch office, Bérénice Kimpe, that the idea of organising a Franco-German event dedicated to young researchers in Berlin was born in 2013. The main objective of this day, the 5th edition of which will be held in the summer of 2018, is to inform and advise future young researchers and doctoral candidates on the careers of researchers and on mobility tools in a Franco-German context, while making them aware of the services offered by the ABG.

Through our contribution to the success of this event and those of the editions that followed, it seemed important to us to contribute to increase the notoriety of the ABG-FGU branch office and its activities in Germany. In our view, the branch office is a reliable and competent partner on all issues relating to the doctorate and beyond, coupled with a cross vision between our two countries.

The collaboration of the Science and Technology Department with the ABG-FGU branch office has always been one of trust and enthusiasm and we look forward to many more years of collaboration!"


Testimonials of ABG-FGU project managers

Fabian Heuel, former project manager ABG-FGU (2008-2009)

"In France, in the 2000s, the group of doctoral candidates positioned itself more clearly in relation to other qualified applicants on the labour market; in Germany, graduate schools were established during the same period, which put the doctoral system to the test. Through government initiatives, both countries underlined the importance of highly qualified scientists for research, innovation and technology development. However, a significant part of the latter takes place outside the universities. At the interface between the doctorate and the private sector labour market, both countries were therefore confronted with challenges. One of the founding goals of the Franco-German branch office was to prepare doctoral candidates for their careers within the company.

A number of hurdles had to be overcome in setting up the branch office, both at administrative level and in developing the concrete work programme. The Franco-German University and the Association Bernard Grégory were able to achieve this with clear will, vigour and wise decisions. Especially in the first years of construction, this was fundamental for the success of the branch office - and a prerequisite for such a special joint project.

Today, the branch office can look back on 10 years. It has accompanied many German and French doctoral candidates on their career development. It inspires the brightest minds for research and development in business and industry - and at the same time promotes the willingness of companies in France and Germany to invest in innovation, especially by encouraging them to recruit PhDs.

For the future, I hope that research, application and innovation in Germany and France can be understood even more as a unit and that young people's enthusiasm for research and innovation can be awakened at an early age."


Bérénice Kimpe, current project manager ABG-FGU (since 2009)

"I remember with a lot of tenderness my beginnings when I had to take back in hand the Franco-German “Nouveau Chapitre de la Thèse” or the looping of the special Franco-German DUZ) ! And then gradually, new actions were born: the Apéro Doc in partnership with the French Embassy in Germany and the French Institutes, the European Doctoriales® and the "Steer your career" workshop with the University of the Greater Region, the CV&Co workshop with the support of OFAJ, the crossborder Postdoctoriales in partnership with Luxembourg... All these projects were very enriching places for exchanges and encounters, both on a personal and professional level.

The branch office holds a very special place in the projects I have developed up to now, especially because everything was still to be built when I arrived. To have actively contributed to its evolution and its perpetuation is one of my most beautiful achievements and that is why I am proud to celebrate with you its ten years. Thanks for being there!

What do I wish for the next 10 years? Encounters and cooperations as beautiful as all those it has generated for doctors from all horizons!

And I cannot conclude without warmly thanking my colleagues ABG and FGU without whom this great adventure would not have taken place! With a very special mention for Mr Hellmann, Mrs Pretceille and Mr Mignotte, who have placed their trust in me throughout his years."


Testmonials of former participants

We asked our former participants what they thought about their experience with ABG-FGU, based on two main questions: what were the benefits for them in participating in our events? Do they have an anecdote to share? What do they wish for the next ten years?

Here are their answers!

How do former participants see the Franco-German branch office?

Dr Clarissa Hilzendeger - Junior Scientist Preclinical Development – PhD in Biology - participated in "Steer your career" (Metz, 2016)

What were the benefits for you?

"I found out that I had value for the job market, especially regarding the private sector (I came from Academia). It was wonderful to realize that we gain many other skills, besides the technical ones, during a PhD. I could also see I was not alone! Many other PhD students or even post-docs had the same view I had in the beginning and learned to value their experience. The event gave me the confidence I needed to go ahead and define what I would like to do next."

What do you wish for the next ten years?

"I wish you keep doing the marvelous work you have done so far. I wish you reach more and more PhDs to let them know they have value as professionals and also as persons."


Dr Pierre Horn – Project Manager for French-German training sessions - PhD in History - participated in "Apéro Doc" (Strasbourg, 2011) and "CV&Co" (Hambourg, 2013)

About your current position

Responsible for projects in Franco-German vocational training, I go to meet companies encountering recruitment difficulties to offer them training sessions together with funding solutions. This requires curiosity and a lot of flexibility, because one must constantly update one's expertise and, above all, be as comfortable in institutional time as in economic time. In return, I enjoy an unparalleled freedom to initiate various projects thanks to which many French job seekers find their way back to work, without forgetting the support for the competitiveness of German companies, in a European context.

What were the benefits for you?

"The participation in various events organized by ABG-FGU allowed me to become aware of my experience and to translate it into valuable skills on the French and German job market. Thanks to the quality and long-term support of this branch, I have succeeded in moving from the rut of a predictable academic career in its tempo, difficulties and completions to the infinite possibilities of a non-university career. That is what I wish for every curious person."

Do you have an anecdote to share?

We are often convinced that his CV is perfect and that it does not need to be reworked, except at the margin. At best, we will seek the opinion of relatives who, if they are full of good will, know absolutely nothing about it. To have a good CV, you must go through a professional, and ideally through a skills assessment. This is what the ABG-FGU branch office offers, which I thank for its coaching and which I warmly recommend!

What do you wish for the next ten years?

I wish the ABG-FGU branch office, in 10 years, ever greater recognition of its action in favour of the mobility of PhDs and in particular outside the university careers. I also hope that, in 10 years, doctoral students and PhDs in Humanities will make greater use of the ABG-FGU, which will help them embrace the career of the generalist or expert executive to which they are promised.


Dr M.L. – PhD in Biology - participated in #EU4PHD (Paris, 2017)

What were the benefits for you?

"Participating to an event of ABG-FGU gave me energy and advice to further apply for jobs as alone behind the computer for months it is not an easy task. Sometimes, it becomes a very unpleasing, redundant task. I had appreciated the way EU4PHD was perfectly organised."

What do you wish for the next ten years?

"To help more senior scientists with more than 35 years old."


Dr F.W – Scientist - PhD in Physics – participated in "Apéro Doc" (Hambourg, 2011)

What were the benefits for you?

"The workshop helped to thoroughly examine my current position & potential."

Do you have an anecdote to share?

"Great atmosphere, great program - and really nicely moderated."

What do you wish for the next ten years?

"Growth & Outreach"


Dr Nina Feltz - Consultant, Career Center, University of Hamburg, Germany - participated in "Apéro Doc" (Hambourg, 2012)

What were the benefits for you?

"We introduced the PhDs in Application Proceedings in Germany."

What do you wish for the next ten years?

"Go on with this great binational science network!"


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