What to include in the training?


There are many ways how to set the similar training and what to include. The aim of creating CARLiS training programme was to make this decision easier by providing a menu of courses discussed with external experts and pilot-tested by four institutions. The full CARLiS programme would require over 90 hours of training, which is a bit heavy load for the busy PhD students. Therefore, it differentiates between the core courses, providing and introduction to the topic and extending courses enabling further development of specific competencies. We would suggest with introducing at least one core course for each skills area – this allows PhD students to get an insight into each area and the hints what to focus on further depending on their preferences and interests. This was also the preferred approach according to the participant’s feedback. Based on the available resources and capacities add core and extending courses can be added.

External or internal trainers?


The crucial factor for a training delivery is whether you can find a suitable trainer. If the institution has sufficient resources, it might rely upon the external trainers. For some topics getting the tailor-made training from the external professional is an ideal solution. The involvement of HR experts (e. g. from the HR department of the big company in the specific sector) is highly appreciated especially with activities such as mock-up interviews. But the institutions should also build internal trainers’ capacities. Professionals in departments that provide research services and where staff has a technical knowledge such as e. g. technology transfer offices, incubators or project offices have the expertise PhD student could also benefit from. Not all of them want and can deliver the trainings, but for those who are interested in such opportunity this is an interesting opportunity for professional growth. Of course, delivering the training requires some additional skills and institutions should support employees who are about to deliver the trainings in developing those skills. That´s why we also included Train the Trainer element in the CARLiS project.

For some topics the members of the faculty or trainers who are usually servsiing other target groups can also be involved - in such case it is just necessary that they familiarise themselves with the specifics of the target group (e. g. professional from career centre can lead some course on entering the labour market should be aware of the labour market for PhD graduates).

Extent of the programme?

Is it better to deliver the courses as one package or offer them as a menu to choose from?  Both approaches have their pros and cons. In case of individual courses students have a more flexibility in choosing what they find relevant – and this flexibility was mentioned by PhD students in the evaluations interviews as very important. On the other hand, the “one package” approach ensures that participants familiarise themselves also with the topics they would maybe not choose at first but offer them valuable information and broaden their career horizons (this was also accentuated in the evaluation interviews when students mentioned that they would at first not consider to participate in course on IP or entrepreneurship as they do not want to become entrepreneur but then they appreciated what they learnt).

The “single package” approach also has a benefit of contributing to the community building among PhD students going through several courses together. It also allows for developing interdisciplinary contacts among the PhD students. In general, type of trainings included in the CARLiS training programme offers and exceptional opportunity for getting to know each other across disciplines and cultures as the topics are related to research but they are not too specific. They include joint assignments and collaborative activities (e. g. in entrepreneurship trainings) and participants are often asked to think about how to communicate their research (e. g. in communication trainings) outside of their research niche.

What methods to use?


The career trainings should be as interactive as possible and provide opportunities for discussing and trying things out. They should also support participants in deeper reflection about their careers and encourage them to make their own investigation on the topics presented. The interactive character of the trainings was also one of the most appreciated features of the CARliS trainings. That does not mean that lectures do not have the place in such training – topics such as IP require that a bulk of complex information is delivered to participants and lecture is an effective method how to do it. But even in such case it necessary to search for the ways how to allow for more interactivity and achieve.

How to encourage participation in career trainings?


Participants emphasised in their feedback that similar training should be offered to all PhD students but on the same time it should remain optional. This raises a question how to motivate busy PhD students to participate in the type of training that is not absolutely essential for completing their PhD. Institutions should search for ways how to encourage their PhD students to participate in the similar trainings. E. g. they can award the ECTS credits for joining the courses (during the CARLiS project the number of suggested ECTS for participation in the programme was also discussed but as each institution has a different rules for awarding credits, it was not possible). Institutions can also engage supervisors and ask them to create the time window their PhD students can use for career training.   The right timing of the training is also crucial – ideally, the training should not take place in the periods when there is a high probability that PhD students have busy schedules.