Juniorprof. Huyen Nguyen, Ph.D.
»My research centers on empirical banking and financial economics. In particular, I am interested in studying how laws and banking regulation affect finance, mortgage markets and the real economy.«
2011 · First Degree
Foreign Trade University of Vietnam
2015 · Second Degree
Bangor University, UK
2019 · Doctoral Studies
University of Nottingham, UK
2019 · Juniorprofessorship
Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Halle Institute for Economic Research
What do you like about your work as a researcher? Why did you decide to become a researcher?
I like learning new things every day and working as a researcher enables me to do so. I decided to become a researcher because I enjoy the challenges that the job brings me as well as the freedom in deciding what I would like to investigate in my academic job. In my view, the only job in the world that collectively connects history and future is being a researcher, in any field.
Who were/are the role models who influenced your career choice?
My mom. She is a chef but her way of thinking has influenced me because she is open-minded and values education.
Who or what gave you the most encouragement along your way to achieving your current position? Whose support, or what support, was most important for you?
My mom and my life partner. They give me mental support in every step of my life.
Has your career progressed smoothly in a linear way? If not, how have you overcome distractions of obstacles?
Being a researcher is demanding because one has to distinguish between daily tasks and long term goals. A research project may last several years. That means a lot of things could happen along the way, either life changes or sometimes, professional requirement changes. The biggest obstacle that one has to face is the loneliness in the profession because one has to be able to independently think and work to deliver high quality research. As a researcher and an immigrant like myself, the loneliness is an even bigger issue because I can only see my family once a year. My solution is to find a good working environment and talk with other experienced researchers. All of us have to overcome some more or less similar issues and we can help each other to overcome obstacles in our professional life.
An academic career often seems to be one of great uncertainty. Has this been the case for you? If so, how did you deal with the uncertainties that faced you?
Yes it is. For example, some research projects that we decided to do can take several years to finish. Along the way, we may not find the results that we hoped for, that means it affects our jobs and threatens the possibility of getting a tenured track position. In Germany, there is essentially no tenure track position for junior professors; every one can spent 6 years as a junior professor and then needs to apply for a long term professorship. That means the competition in the field is huge and many people find themselves either leaving the country or the profession for an open ended labour contract at the end of their junior professorship. My plan is to discipline myself in doing high quality research and talk with other experienced researchers to get advice.
How important is networking to your career? Do you have a particular strategy for networking?
It is very important. I usually attend conferences, give seminars and organize research visits to broaden my networks. For example, I am a frequent visitor at the Deutsche Bundesbank where I have chance to talk about my research to policy makers. I also find that conferences are important in getting to know other researchers. Co-authorships may arise from these academic research exchanges.
How do you manage to balance a demanding career with a private life?
I am still trying to do this as I am not very good at balancing my career with my private life. At the moment, I work in Halle and Jena which is not too far from my partner's hometown. It is just a first step. The main challenge is that sometimes I find myself working late night because research sometimes requires us to concentrate for a long time. I try to limit myself in these situation. At somepoint, as a woman, I would love to become a mom. In order to be ready for that, I hope to deliver some high quality research at the early stage of my career so that I can spend a bit more time for my private life later on.
What tips would you offer young women starting out on an academic career? Could you offer some Dos and Don’ts?
I am still at an early stage of my career and I think young women face a lot of difficulties as a researcher because our profession is not so gender balanced. Thus, networking for women may be harder and as the result, we may be less informed than we could be. My first advice is that »Don't be shy in asking questions and do get in contact with other female scientists in your academic home to exchange ideas and share experiences.« My second advice is that »Don't be scared of rejections because we will always get more "nos" than ''yeses'' in our career. The rejections we get make us learn from our mistakes and mature in our academic life.«
Do female academics of the University of Jena feel comfortable in their roles? What makes the University of Jena attractive for you?
I think so. What attracts me to the Friedrich Schiller University Jena is that the university is active in promoting women and trying to be more international. For example, I always admire Professor Silke Übelmesser because she is great at her roles as both a mother and as a professor in public finance. She also helps and collectively gives great advice to younger women in academia like myself, not only at the University of Jena but also at other universities and research institutions.