Actively focus on defining your career goals You are just about to complete your dissertation, or have already done so. Time to take stock. Around two years after completing your doctorate, you should have decided whether your career is headed into academia or elsewhere. We know that opinions tend to differ on this issue. Shortly before graduating, around 47% of economists and 56% of humanities and social scientists aspire to an academic career (SBFI 2014). And this despite the fact that there are few, if any, prospects of permanent employment. Statistically speaking, fewer than 20% of postdocs in Germany have a chance of finding a permanent job in academia (Jahn 2013). That figure is likely to be similar for Switzerland. You can make the question about your career goals easier by splitting it into two: 1. Is academic work what I do best? 2. Is academic work what I want to keep doing? Let the scientific community be the judge of your academic ability. After all, they are the people who will be evaluating you when it comes to funding applications, publications and jobs. What feedback have you received from your Ph.D. supervisor, from expert audiences following presentations, from review panels for funding applications, and about applications for postdoc positions? Use all of this to assess your academic performance. In terms of whether to carry on, you are the expert on you. You have spent the last few years experiencing how the academic world works. You know what is required of you in an academic context and in your personal life and planning. Do your individual strengths, needs and values align with these requirements? The following questions can help with self-reflection and decision-making (based on Müller, 2014): What does my academic track record so far look like? Are there experienced academics who support me? Have I found a place within the scientific community where I feel comfortable and where I am recognised? Is there another academic subject that I’m dying to tackle? Am I willing to commit to more years of uncertainty in fixed-term jobs? Can I imagine moving multiple times for work in the next few years? What other career options do I also find attractive? Could I still pursue these options in 10 years’ time?How much time am I willing to give myself to make decisions about my career path? References: Jahn, R. (2013): Postdocs – A Neglected Group in the German Academic System. Postdoctoral Career Paths 2.0: The Golden Triangle of Competitive Junior Investigators, Adequate Academic Systems, and Successful Careers. Proceedings of the 7th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities. November 15–16, 2013. Berlin. Müller, M. (2014): Promotion – Postdoc – Professur. Karriereplanung in der Wissenschaft. Frankfurt am Main: Campus. Staatssekretariat für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation (SBFI) (2014): Massnahmen zur Förderung des wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses in der Schweiz. Bericht des Bundesrats in Erfüllung des Postulats WBK-SR (12.3343).