From the 15th-17th December 2021, I was lucky to be awarded a bursary to attend the first CIVICA Doctoral conference, taking place on the beautiful campus of the European University Institute (EUI) just outside of Florence, Italy. The conference theme was “How to prepare yourself for the Academic Job Market”.
The conference gathered 14 doctoral students attending in-person (including myself), with two students attending remotely. Every European university forming the CIVICA alliance was represented. Additionally, doctoral students from all the universities who did not apply to be delegates could still attend some sessions via Zoom.
The conference consisted of sessions allowing us to connect with academic staff at different levels (postdoc, assistant, associate, professor) to learn from their experience navigating the academic job market. They candidly shared their knowledge and provided useful, applicable advice on how to prepare key materials for the applications (cover letters, CVs, teaching statements, research proposals and statements), how to prepare for job interviews, and how to strategize the growth of your academic career. There were also one-to-one job interviews organised allowing us to practice the advice.
My favourite session was the talk by Marina Henke on how to strategize the growth of your academic career. The advice was direct, but not discouraging, and provided a realistic view of the academic field and a career in academia. My second favourite session was the panel with postdoctoral students who successfully applied to Marie-Skłodowska-Curie and Max Webber Fellowships. They, too, provided some helpful advice on how to juggle a policy and academic career. It was such a pleasure to meet and get to know the other delegates, hear about their research, their ambitions, and bond about shared worries over delicious Italian cuisine.
The EUI campus is beautiful; we were told that the Italian villas that make up the buildings of the campus were passed on from private owner to private owner before being bought by the Italian government. Recognising an academic need to study Europe, they offered the villas to the European Union and with collective funding from EU member states, the EUI was born. The EUI hold the historical EU Archives.
While I was initially worried to travel given the spread of the new coronavirus variant, I am very happy I decided to attend in person. The EUI organised daily tests for the delegates; whenever we were not seated, we wore masks (as per the EUI policy); and everywhere we went our green passes were checked, so I felt safe and reassured that those around me were staying safe too. I am thankful for the EUI organisers of the conference and look forward to participating again in other CIVICA initiatives in the future!
“LSE is one of the eight outstanding European universities forming the alliance that is CIVICA (The European University of Social Sciences). Embodying the European motto of “United in Diversity”, CIVICA is a collaboration of higher education institutions specialised in social sciences, humanities, business management and public policy. CIVICA holds opportunities for Undergraduates, Masters, PhD students, and citizens. Check out the website to see what’s on offer, and get in touch with the CIVICA Student Ambassadors if you have any enquiries.”