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Speed networking with snacks

Speed networking is a quick way to establish new professional contacts. (Image: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

Brown bag breaks for young researchers at FAU

Brown bag breaks are informal events that get their name from the USA, where lunches are often packaged in brown paper bags. They are an opportunity to gather information, network and talk to colleagues about potential joint projects over a snack. FAU hosts brown bag breaks for its young researchers.

What happens at a brown bag break?

Around 50 young researchers from various disciplines are gathered in the cafeteria at the Translational Research Center. At the tables, several groups of doctoral candidates are already engaged in lively discussions. Today the second brown bag break is being held.

‘This series of events is part of our research alumni programme, which was recognised by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as a successful programme in 2014,’ explains Imke Zottnick-Linster from FAU’s Alumni Management. ‘The aim of the programme is to establish close relationships with guest researchers and ensure they remain part of our network after they have left FAU.’

The doctoral candidates also have the opportunity to find out about important topics at the information stands, such as funding their doctoral projects or applying for patents. They can also learn more about the FAU alumni network and take part in speed networking to find potential future research partners.

Not just young researchers

Young researchers aren’t the only people who attend brown bag breaks. Established researchers also come to these meetings to share their career tips.

Prof. Dr. Felix B. Engel gives the young researchers career tips. (Image: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

Prof. Dr. Felix B. Engel gives the young researchers career tips. (Image: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

Today’s speaker is Prof. Dr. Felix B. Engel, co-ordinator of the Emerging Fields Project ‘CYDER: Cell Cycle in Disease and Regeneration’. He tells the audience about his career path after completing his Diplom degree, from his time at Harvard to his current research on cell regeneration. He believes that networking and talking to as many people as possible – including those from other subjects – is crucial,

as it allows researchers to discover new fields and opportunities. ‘The main reason I’m taking part is because not enough mentoring happens. Young researchers often don’t know how tough the competition gets as they come closer to completing their doctoral degrees or what varied opportunities exist afterwards,’ Prof. Engel says. ‘I would have been delighted if these kinds of events had been available when I was a young researcher.’

A relaxed atmosphere

The presentation is well received. ‘Mr Engel has boosted by confidence by illustrating the diverse paths and possibilities available for a successful career,’ says Natalia Lelental from the Chair of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. ‘And I find it reassuring to hear that one or two setbacks are to be expected and that they aren’t the end of the world.’

At the start the researchers have to find the person with the same symbol on their bag – a good opportunity to get the conversation started. (Image: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

At the start the researchers have to find the person with the same symbol on their bag – a good opportunity to get the conversation started. (Image: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

This is Natalia Lelental’s second brown bag break – she enjoyed the first one so much that she signed up for the second one straight away. ‘I like the nice, relaxed atmosphere and that there are so many international doctoral candidates here,’ she says. ‘I like exchanging and comparing ideas with other people because it allows me to discover new, useful ideas for my future. It’s also interesting to broaden my horizons through the interdisciplinary nature of the discussions.’

 

More information about the research alumni programme is available under research alumni.

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