It’s a question that many master’s students ask themselves at some point. The answer, especially in pharmacy and chemistry, isn’t trivial. It depends on many external factors. To aid the students in their decision, we interviewed many of them and tried to address their questions and concerns.
The decision, what to do after your master studies, depends also heavily on the environment, for example, a much higher percentage of master’s students from Denmark opts to aim for a PhD, since most of their PhD projects are similar to regular jobs – they are in direct collaboration with the industry or fully funded by the universities and the average wages of the students move around 4000 EUR/month. In Czechia, the collaboration between universities and the industry (and the involvement of PhD students therein) is not that common and usually depends just on the cooperation on a single project between a company and a professor. That’s where a new “game-changer” comes in – The Parc. The Parc is a post-graduate program focusing on applied pharmaceutical research, a joint initiative of the most prestigious universities in the Czech Republic: University of Chemistry and Technology Prague and, Faculty of Science of Charles University, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the biggest pharmaceutical company in the country Zentiva.
To find out, which external factors affect a student’s decision whether to pursue a PhD in pharmacy, chemistry or process engineering in the Czech Republic, we talked to former and current master’s students from different universities (localities/places) and backgrounds (of course we also asked many who decided not to do a PhD at all) and tried to put together the most frequent apprehensions. Below, you can find the five most frequent concerns along with responses by The Parc representative (text in italic):
The student decided to pursue a totally different topic from the one he had studied.
While we understand the need to explore new areas (or even the feeling of being “fed up” with the current topic), doing a PhD at The Parc is a substantially different experience from your studies till now. You can lead your own project working at various institutions while regularly consulting your topics with experts from the industry and the academy.
The student doesn’t want to do a PhD, because he wants to return to his hometown or has another specific path in mind.
A completely relevant reason, doing a PhD is definitely not for everyone, as even the Czech association of PhD students emphasizes in their handbook. The most important thing is to know what paths are available, what they entail and then to pick the one which suits you the most. You might even pursue a different career and then come back one day as a specialist in your own topic and end up lecturing new Parc students.
Studying for a PhD is often still believed to be just a gateway to a lifetime of academic career, some students decide not to do it because they feel it wouldn’t help them to advance in other potential directions, the knowledge they would obtain would be too narrowly focused and not applicable in other fields.
In The Parc the wide choice of available PhD topics is focused on practicality in cooperation with an established industrial partner. During their PhD our students are working with advanced and widely used technologies, even on a large scale, and they are gathering experience and inspiration from their fellow pharma researchers. Furthermore, other aspects of personal development are taken seriously too, such as improvement of soft skills. The Parc students have meetings with a certified coach, receiving lectures about effective interpersonal communication, leadership and about how to present successfully. All this leads to growth of their professional potential and their attractivity to any employer, as past experience has shown – most of our alumni are employed in the industry, some at leading positions. Some of them stay at the universities and work towards building bridges between the academy and the industry. Whatever path our alumni take, they naturally become the next generation of supervisors who teach the younger generations of PhD students.
Of course, a frequent point is the concern of students regarding the financial aspect of going for a PhD, due to the stipend received from the state, as compared to the wage they could be getting in private sector.
It is understandable that doing a PhD in Czechia might be challenging due to monetary issues. The stipend can be usually complemented by a grant – The Parc students have a great advantage when applying for grants since collaboration between the industry and the academia is valued highly by grant committees. Moreover, the industrial partner supports the students financially as well.
Surprisingly, many students believe having a PhD can be regarded just as a “postponement” of adult professional life and is seen as such by future employers.
According to our experience, this is rarely the case. While in Czechia most positions do not directly require having a PhD, international companies value the degree greatly and if you want to advance your career in the pharma R&D, manufacturing or even the management sector, having it is going to be invaluable.
Did some of these points ring a bell? If you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact us! The option to apply for a PhD in the Parc is currently open. Check out our currently available PhD topics for 2020.
April 20. 2020