The popular academic leadership and career planning course continues
The academic leadership and career planning course has been popular, and will be arranged again in the upcoming academic year. University Researcher Eljas Oksanen talks about his experience on the course.

Helsinki institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) and HYMY Doctoral School offer an interdisciplinary academic leadership and career planning course. The course is targeted to post-doctoral researchers who are launching their independent researcher career after earning a PhD. and building their own research group. The course is available again in the fall in 2022 and the call for applications will open soon.

The purpose of the academic leadership and career planning course is to help researchers to develop their leaderships skills and strategic planning of research themes. Furthermore, the course provides help for assembling a good research group, and for full use of the research services and infrastructure of the University of Helsinki.

Taking the course offered useful information and a sense of community

Eljas Oksanen is a University Researcher at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki and took the academic leadership and career planning course in the academic year 2021-2022. Oksanen says the course was useful for receiving information for an academic career, as well as for peer support from other early career researchers, and a sense of community.

– Taking the course offered me a sense of community and supported me while working remotely during the pandemic. I felt like I received good peer support because the other participants were approximately at the same point in their career, Oksanen says.

During the course, the group discussed for instance career trajectories, strategic mapping of research horizons, project management, social impact issues and publication strategies, data management, and research ethics. Guest speakers linked these practical matters to discussing the larger thematic horizons of social sciences and humanities, such as well-being, climate change challenges, datafication, security, and cultural interaction.

– The thematic lectures were relevant to me on different levels, but they were all very interesting and I have a heap of notes from all of them. All the presenters spoke openly about their personal experiences and that’s the most valuable information one can get, Oksanen says.

From England to a new community at the University of Helsinki

The academic leadership and career planning course is arranged for the third time next fall and the course is continuously being developed based on participants’ feedback. Eljas Oksanen says the course was well thought-out and pedagogically a good experience. He says the course instructors had a humane approach.

– I’m not saying this just to say, “it’s nice when teachers have a good attitude”, but I felt like it was a part of the course atmosphere and a sense community, which I was looking for, and still am.

Despite an overall positive experience, there are things that could be done better. Oksanen hoped some of the guests speaking on the course would’ve been closer in experience to the early career researchers. Academically senior people with long careers provided useful insight, but in addition hearing from someone who has recently experienced what the course participants are going through would’ve been useful.

Thematically Oksanen wanted to see more content focused on project leading, that could be implemented in practice in the participants’ own projects. In addition, he wanted to see more of HSSH on the course.

– Of course, the purpose of the course is not to advertise HSSH, but I wanted to hear a bit more about what kind of resources and help HSSH could offer to myself as a researcher, and more widely to other early career researchers.

Oksanen adds that he is waiting to see what will happen after the course. He wishes to receive information on future events, for example. He feels he has gotten to know the other course participants well and believes they will keep in touch in the future.

The course is useful to all early career researchers

Oksanen recommends the course to all early career researchers and especially to people coming to the University of Helsinki from the outside, from another university in Finland or abroad, because starting a new job in a new community can be a big hurdle. He says information does not travel so well inside the University of Helsinki and there can be so much silent information that it is a burden. Oksanen feels the course was a good place for receiving some of this information.

– The course provided a platform for receiving this information that is needed in the shark tank where the academic people try to swim. In a best-case scenario, the course can also provide great networking opportunities and a sense of community.