Highlights from the cross-border career workshop "PhD, what comes next?" 2023


The online edition of the cross-border workshop in 2023 occurred on December 6 - 8, and gathered participants from Luxembourg, Germany, and France. Similar to the preceding year, the seminar targeted PhD candidates in the final stages of their Ph.D. programs and young researchers on temporary contracts across various fields, aspiring to forge careers outside of academia.

Why a crossborder event?


Pictures and testimonials



The 3-day cross-border workshop for PhD candidates follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, a cross-border seminar for postdoctoral researchers which has been organised four times in Luxembourg between 2015 and 2018. Since 2020, the cross-border workshop for PhD candidates and new PhD holders is organised online by ABG and its Luxembourgish and German partners.



Each university and institution provides slots in this seminar for their Ph.D. candidates and holders. Furthermore, the FNR (Luxembourg National Research Fund) and the UFA (French-German University) contribute to the seminar to facilitate the participation of young researchers from other organizations.

 Why a crossborder event?

Here is some feedback from the participants:

"The cross-border aspect of this workshop has added value, especially because the application formats are different according to the countries. We used one of the networking breakouts to talk about our experience of the different work cultures. Multicultural skills are definitely useful!"
"I appreciated to have more information on the recruitment process in Luxembourg and Germany."   


Since 2015, the seminar has retained its cross-border structure, welcoming participants from France, Germany, and Luxembourg. This global aspect mirrors the shared concerns of early-stage researchers across many European countries, such as the growing competitiveness within the academic job market and the limited awareness of opportunities beyond academia. The online format facilitates participation from various locations, enabling PhD candidates involved in joint programs with other countries to also benefit from attending the seminar.


This year, the seminar convened a diverse group of 19 participants spanning a wide array of disciplines, including Economics, Food Science, Finance, Biotechnology, Law, Civil Engineering, Sociolinguistics, Human Geography, Literature, Sociology, Political Science, Environmental Studies, Psychology, Biochemistry, Geoscience, and Physics...


The participants had prior international mobility exposure during their doctoral studies. This workshop allocated time to strategize their potential future international transitions, aligning them with their preferences and expectations, and aiding them in acclimating to the prevailing recruitment practices in their intended countries of relocation. The gathering of Ph.D. candidates from three distinct countries and various nationalities fostered an intercultural setting, enabling mutual learning, and the exchange of diverse viewpoints on living and working abroad.



The 3-day program aimed to prepare the participants for carefully defining their career choices and promoting the benefits of their PhD training and highly valued skills obtained through this experience. Participants were invited to reflect on their career plans by relating their previous work experience to their personal and professional desires and values.


Centered on France, Luxembourg, and Germany, the workshop offered valuable perspectives on the international job market and potential avenues for Ph.D. holders across various industries. It delved into recruitment procedures and applications beyond academia, encompassing traditional CVs, cover letters, and narrative CVs. The session also provided tools for navigating the job market, pinpointing companies, and identifying job opportunities. Additionally, it emphasized effective communication, introducing techniques and guidance to assist participants in articulating their background, experience, skills, and future career aspirations.


Beyond the main sessions, participants will also be able to submit their updated CV and cover letter tailored for a specific job offer or type of position to receive personalized written feedback.


The participants directly applied the concepts learned during various role playing, individual and group exercises integrated into the program. They had the opportunity to engage in discussions and share additional information with each other through Slack.


All of this launched a soul-searching and self-assessment process, allowing them to focus on what they really want to do next and to follow these ideas up with concrete actions afterwards.


"The workshop offered a clear path for transitioning from a PhD to a non-academic career, stressing the significance of transferable skills, networking, and crafting effective CVs and cover letters. It broadened my perspective on career planning beyond academia, outlining strategies for designing a career plan, understanding the job market for PhDs, highlighting personal assets and skills, and navigating the job search process outside academia."
"This workshop was very instructive. Storytelling was new for me. I liked very much the "actionable" aspect of the workshop: it was not only about telling about the importance of networking or storytelling, but it was a "how-to" manual to guide us in the process."

Participants also had the chance to engage in discussions with international Ph.D. holders employed in diverse sectors and organizations outside academia, including industry, consultancy, and national and international public institutions. Some had even embarked on entrepreneurship. The panel speakers shared valuable perspectives on the skills and attributes sought by recruiters, offering essential advice to assist candidates in building effective networks and communicating proficiently beyond academia. Additionally, they provided valuable information on transitioning between countries and adapting to new cultures and professional norms.


ABG warmly thanks the speakers who took the time to share their experience as PhDs having successfully switched into careers outside academia:



"I'm enthusiastic about applying these newfound insights to pursue a rewarding non-academic career. Leveraging the diverse skills and experiences I've accumulated during my master's and doctoral studies, I aim to embark on this new professional journey with confidence and readiness". 
I liked the networking part, both with other PhD candidates and the PhD holders in the non-academic sector. I gained inspiration and advice from them
"I am really happy with this workshop. It opens my horizon on the non-academic job market. "
What they learned
"Writing a career plan is not reserved for big career people, it helps us figure out what we want and guides our job search”.
"Storytelling is key and can be implemented in the CV, motivation letter, networking and interview process. It is worth spending time identifying and illustrating my skills. Use Docpro and the table to build a skill library that I can then use to tailor my applications."
"Networking, networking, networking!"


If you are you interested in organizing a similar workshop for PhD candidates or postdocs, contact us for more information:

Kristina Berkut, PhD – Training and International Cooperation Manager