Wegweiser Karriere Mentoring

Career Mentoring for STEM Doctoral Candidates

Mentoring programme of the Graduate Academy
Wegweiser Karriere Mentoring
Graphic: Melissa Fiebig

Many doctoral candidates face the question of how to pursue a career outside academia after the completion of their doctorate. One thing is sure, the next career step will take them out of academia and into one of the various fields in industry and society. Beyond this decision, however, many questions remain unanswered: Which career path is the right one? How to succeed in leaving academia and entering new fields? What skills are needed? How does a network work?

The programme "Career Mentoring" signposts possible career paths and supports doctoral candidates in the natural sciences in planning and achieving their career goals. The programme pursues the goal of preparing twelve outstanding doctoral candidates for a successful career in industry and society, providing them with better access to career-relevant networks, and developing and expanding their competence profile for the non-academic job market.

The programme offers a combination of three components: career mentoring, networking activities and several trainings. The mentoring programme lasts one year. The call for applications is open in May each year. The programme starts in June. 

The Mentoring Programme is part of the project "Natural sciences in industry and society: contact, mentoring, communication and cooperation" funded by the Joachim Herz FoundationExternal link.

Components​ of the programme:

Peer group meeting
Peer group meeting
Image: AdobeStock / alotofpeople

The mentees will be divided into smaller fixed groups. Each group will receive receive counselling by experienced managers and executives from various fields of work in industry and society. The mentors have successfully stepped outside academia after their doctoral projects and they are sharing their experience and knowledge about structures, strategies, and processes in society and the industry. This is the so called group mentoring

The mentee are not only involved in the meeting with the mentors, but also in meetings among peers. In peer mentoring, mentees exchange ideas on career-related topics in fixed small groups. They meet in regular, structured meetings. Peer mentoring offers an intensive exchange of experiences as well as mutual motivation and support. Possible focal points of the exchange can be, for example: developing a career strategy, mutual feedback on application documents and social media profiles.

The groups can determine the frequency of the meetings themselves. However, at least one meeting every two months is recommended for peer mentoring and at least one meeting every three months for group mentoring.


Young people talking
Young people talking
Image: rawpixel.com

In the area of networking, various events for mentees and mentors are organised by the programme coordination. These can be networking evenings for networking and exchange, panel discussions on career paths and career strategies with a specific focus, or exchanges in small groups with experts on specific topics. These events offer the opportunity to get to know mentees and mentors independently of the fixed groups.

The networking offer is made up of face-to-face formats and digital offers. Digital events enable low-threshold, location-independent participation.


Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

The programme starts with a one-day preparatoy workshop. In further workshops, the doctoral researchers acquire important skills and knowledge that are necessary for the transition to academia, for example assessment centre training or how to conduct salary negotiations.

Some of the workshops will take place as workshops on site at the Graduate Academy, shorter workshops will take place virtually via online platforms. Participation in these workshops is mandatory for the mentees.

Framework programme

The mentoring programme is accompanied by a framework programme. This includes:

  • Kick-off event with official bringing together of the peer groups and mentoring groups
  • Interim evaluation with the programme coordination
  • Closing event with awarding of the mentoring certificates

Mentees and mentors sharing impressions

Stefanie Lawrinowitz
Stefanie Lawrinowitz, Mentee 2020/21
"It was very interesting to exchange experiences with the other mentees. I appreciated the exchange with my mentor a lot, we had really great and helpful conversations and I felt like I was learning a lot and literally growing from our discussions."


Gabi Julia Schopf
Graduate Academy
Gabi Schopf
Image: Norbert Krause
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