International doctoral student interested in diverse career opportunities

Tina Borke, a doctoral student at the Department of Chemistry, considers Finland a good place to live and work. However, she believes information about different employment opportunities could be more readily available.

This year’s career monitoring survey conducted by the Aarresaari Career Services Network of Finnish Universities is currently underway, and the Faculty of Science is also looking forward to up-to-date information about the employment of graduates. The survey results will be used to develop education, but both undergraduate and doctoral students can also benefit from them – and that includes international students.

 “Students are very insecure about the future, and it would help if they had more information about their employment opportunities,” says Tina Borke who is working on her dissertation on macromolecular chemistry.

Applying for chemistry jobs can be challenging

Borke wound up in Finland after completing her Master’s thesis in Sweden. She found out about the doctoral student position at the University of Helsinki after an acquaintance mentioned a cooperation project with the Faculty of Pharmacy in Viikki. After observing the job market for several years, Borke estimates that it has recently become more difficult to find jobs in chemistry.

 “Sometimes people from our laboratory have gotten lucky finding a job, but sometimes they’ve had to keep looking for a year or two. Not everyone has gotten a research position, but they have been employed for example as teachers,” Borke explains.

Originally from Germany, the doctoral student says she would like to work in pharmaceutical chemistry. She says that the big companies, such as Orion and Neste, are easy to remember for job-seekers. But smaller businesses and startups are often ignored.

 “In general, it will be interesting to find out whether chemistry graduates consider their degrees useful and whether they’ve found jobs in the field.”

Development for education and hope for the future

Borke’s project group is working on a polymer system that could help cure eye diseases. Doctoral studies are typically very independent, requiring project management and problem-solving skills. There is a demand for teaching softer skills, as research partners may not meet each other more than a few times a year.

 “As chemists, our strong suits are analytical skills and pattern recognition, but our interaction and leadership skills could use some work. For example, doctoral students supervising Master’s students are typically thrown into the deep end of the pool with little preparation.”

Borke is herself about to begin her job search.

 “People who are currently employed may remember the feelings of insecurity they had during their studies when they were unsure what the future held. It would be great to hear from alumni about where we should look for jobs and what kinds of skills are required to find employment.”

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Ca­reer mon­it­or­ing of uni­versit­ies

Universities use career monitoring surveys to gather information about how graduates find employment and what kinds of skills employers are looking for.

The survey is conducted by the Aarresaari career services network of Finnish universities.

The current career monitoring survey covers graduates who completed a second-cycle degree or a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or kindergarten teaching in 2012 as well as doctoral graduates of 2014.

The survey results are used in study guidance, the development of education and teaching as well as in research on the career development of university graduates.

The answers will be processed confidentially and the results reported in a way that individual respondents cannot be identified. The career monitoring data is stored anonymised in an electronic format in the Finnish Social Sciences Data Archive.

Read the results of previous career monitoring surveys        


More about the subject: Teaching & studying at the University