Are you aiming for a career leading to a professorship? Are you interested in entering a profession outside academia? Or are you looking for a suitable position? We have put together information from Hamburg's higher education institutions that will support you in your career development.
Training or advising can provide orientation on the path to professorship. Support is also available to help you apply for external funding or to improve your teaching, presentation, publication, or leadership skills.
The way your academic career takes shape depends upon your subject and research topic. Generally, there are three possible paths from doctoral studies to appointment as a professor: completing a Habilitation, demonstrating that you have comparable academic credentials, or being appointed as a junior professor or early career research group leader. These paths to a professorship are flexible – a postdoctoral research associate can switch to a position as a junior professor, for example.
As a postdoctoral researcher or W1-Professor, you are now at the stage in your career when you will prepare for lifetime professorship. A great deal will be expected of you. For example, you will have to:
- Develop your (research) profile
- Apply for external research funding
- Work as a lecturer and supervisor
- Assume personnel responsibilities
- Traditionally, you become a research associate (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin/wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) or a postdoctoral research associate (wissenschaftliche Assistentin/wissenschaftlicher Assistent) after completing doctoral studies and pursue a Habilitation. In both cases, you will answer to a full professor and have teaching duties.
Bear in mind that on the path to becoming a professor, you will need to change your university or research institution as appointments at the institution you have studied are generally not possible. A junior professorship with tenure track is the exception here. In this case, candidates are required to have already changed universities when they apply.
- As a postdoctoral researcher, you may gain the qualifications for a professorship in an externally funded project and complete your Habilitation or comparable academic work in a position for which you have acquired your own funding or as a early career research group leader.
- A junior professorship (W1) may also lead to a tenured professorship (W2/W3). These W1 positions are offered with and without tenure track. Following successful interim and final evaluations, a tenure-track position can lead to a tenured professorship.
- The call to a professorship at a University of Applied Sciences (UAS) traditionally requires threefold qualification in teaching, research, and professional practice outside the university. After succesful completion of your doctoral studies and an additional five years of relevant practical work experience (three of which have to be completed outside of university), you are qualified to apply for a UAS professorship.
Career paths outside academia
Your academic qualifications open up an array of career paths outside of academia. Statistically speaking, only 1 percent of doctoral graduates are unemployed (according to a study by the German Federal Statistical Office from 2011) and almost 50 percent of all chairpersons of DAX companies have a doctoral qualification.
However, many people are unsure how to transition to a non-academic career. The Hamburg Research Academy offers a range of support in this area:
- individual career coaching in cooperation with the HR Development at Universität Hamburg
- a regular, German-language information session on how to write a letter of application and curriculum vitae
- workshops on career development
- career programs for doctoral researchers in the final phase of their dissertation and postdoctoral researchers at all career levels
- career days for those embarking on a non-academic career
We recommend that you plan your non-academic career and start cultivating relevant contacts at an early stage. To give you some insight before you take these steps, we recommend you read the German publication on non-academic careers beyond the doctorate Perspektiven nach der Promotion. Berufswege außerhalb der Wissenschaft. Universität Hamburg participated in this study, published by the German University Association of Advanced Graduate Training (GUAT/UniWiND) in 2018. In Sections 1 to 13, you will find profiles of people with doctorates who have established successful careers outside of academia. Section 2 consists of interviews with over 40 companies giving their perspective on employing persons with doctoral qualifications.
Good to know:
We recommend the following publications before you plan the next steps in your career:
- Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers (Ten Speed Press, 2018).
- Mirjam Müller, Karriere nach der Wissenschaft: Alternative Berufswege für Promovierte (Campus Verlag, 2017).
Offers from Hamburg's higher education institutions
The following offers address primarily doctoral and early career researchers from the respective institution. Please check the linked websites carefully to see if you are eligible to participate. Additionally, you find offers in our online course portal that are open to all users of the Hamburg Research Academy.
With the career development cycle, the HR development department of Universität Hamburg (UHH) helps you clarify your goals, plan how you mean to achieve these, further yourself, and advance in your career.
- The Graduate Academy for Technology and Innovation at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) hosts a series of workshops and training courses. They are offered in German and English.
- The Promotionskolleg (in German only) at HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU) holds regular workshops for postdoctoral researchers on applying for external funding, the main funding institutions (federal ministries, DFG, EU, foundations), and international research mobility.
Pro Exzellenzia offers leadership workshops and events for highly-qualified women. The workshops are intended for female graduates of Hamburg higher education institutions in the areas of mathematics, informatics, the natural sciences, technology, art, music, architecture, and the humanities who have their primary residence in Hamburg.
Didactics and higher education teaching
Professional support for further qualifying teachers is available at Hamburg’s higher education institutions.
The Hamburg Center for University Teaching and Learning (HUL) (in German only) at Universität Hamburg (UHH) offers practical workshops and certificate courses.
The Studies & Didactics Office (in German only) at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) is devoted to higher education teaching.
The Center for Teaching and Learning (ZLL) at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) offers higher education teaching workshops.
Starting a business
Do you have an innovative idea and want to set up a scalable business model as a young researcher? The start-up scene is booming and offers excellent career prospects. You can approach various institutions specializing in academic research to make your start-up idea a reality.
- Startup Dock (in German only) is a cross-university incubator that was originally established at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). If you want to realize a technology-based idea, you will receive professional advice and training offers here to help further your entrepreneurial thinking and activities.
- Hamburg Innovation (in German only) offers advising and coaching in the fields of technology and services specifically for graduates and university staff. Hamburg Innovation cooperates with the Startup Dock.
- Exist is a funding program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Besides reliable information on setting up a business, the Exist start-up grants in particular may be of interest.
- Hamburg’s H.E.I. start-up initiative (in German only) offers free advising and events for all sectors on starting a business in Hamburg.
The Knowledge Exchange Service at Universität Hamburg (UHH) provides preliminary advice and links to start-up funding options.
Tips and recommendations
- Are you looking for jobs within academia? We have compiled a selection of job and career portals as well as links to current job opportunities at Hamburg's higher education institutions.
- Trade fairs, e.g., Stellenwerk Hamburg’s career fair, can provide useful stimulus. For an overview of international career fairs for doctoral and early career researchers, please see the Research in Germany website. (Links in German only)