30 July 2022
In our monthly series People You Should Know, we introduce people from Hamburg’s academic community who may be helpful contacts. It also gives you the opportunity to learn more about various aspects of research and higher education management. Today we are talking to Dr. Stephan Michel, department coordinator at Universität Hamburg.
What exactly do you do and why is your work relevant for doctoral and early career researchers?
I work as department coordinator at the Department of Social Sciences at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences. In this function, I act as an intermediary and „translator“ between academia and administration within the faculty as well as with regards to the university administration. My job covers a broad range of topics, including academic self-governance, financial budgets and human resources. For doctoral and early career researchers, I function as first level support for all administrative issues: If I can’t help myself, I know who can! Furthermore, I am also equal opportunities officer for the administrative and technical personnel.
What made you go into this field / how did you come to take on this position?
During the final years of my doctorate and during my postdoc, my research associate position included tasks as the coordinator of a DFG-funded graduate school. In this position, I realized that I am a much better academic manager than a researcher. Thus, I took a lot of courses in the area of academic management and applied successfully for a temporary position as department coordinator for the Department of Economics. After a few months, a permanent position in the neighboring department became available and since June 2019 I am department coordinator at the Department of Social Sciences. With regards to the position of equal opportunities officer, I was asked by a colleague who was already in the team whether I would like to join the team and run for the upcoming „election“, which I did.
What are the 3 most important pieces of advice for doctoral and early career researchers?
1. Use the time during your PhD/Postdoc to figure out in which areas you really excel. This could be research, but likewise teaching or academic management. Align your career path with your skills!
2. Talk to the people who have the jobs that you are interested in (for example in academic management). Oftentimes, job titles don’t tell you a lot about the daily business, but the people doing it will enjoy to do so.
3. Temporary positions are a great opportunity to get started in academic management. Once you are in, the next steps will often follow automatically.