Are you figuring out what you want after your PhD?
To help you and your fellow researchers find your career path, we developed a new platform: AcademicsConnected. Here you can explore six research focused career journeys, get expert advice and read personal stories from other researchers.
Today we share Wim's personal story. After his PhD graduation, he started working as a scientist at a not-for-profit organization. How did he get there?
Name: Wim Korevaar
Master’s degree: Electrical Engineering (University of Twente)
PhD degree: Electrical Engineering (University of Twente)
Current position: Optical & RF Communications Scientist (TNO)
AMBITION: WHAT WAS YOUR AMBITION IN TERMS OF CAREER PERSPECTIVE, DURING YOUR PHD?
My wish was to combine entrepreneurship and scientific research. They may sound like two different worlds, but both entrepreneurs as well as scientists try to come up with solutions for today’s problems and turn them into reality. Creating a positive impact for tomorrow, that’s what drives me.
DIFFICULTIES: WHICH UNCERTAINTIES DID YOU FACE?
During my studies and PhD, I got the opportunity to start two tech startups, together with a small team. This answered my ambition and passion for science and entrepreneurship. After my PhD, I continued to manage one of the companies, but - with more and more management tasks – I started to miss in-depth scientific research. After the acquisition of the second company, I considered different options and decided to return to (applied) research. I joined the national research institute TNO, to work on next-generation telecommunication systems for the space industry; a very exciting field!
HELPING HAND: WHAT HELPED YOU IN TAKING THE CAREER STEP?
I joined TNO with a big thanks to a former PhD colleague of mine, who told me about the optical satellite communications program at TNO. His introduction and a few cups of coffee did the job.
Personal growth: Why does this job fit you?
At TNO I experience an entrepreneurial environment, with a lot of responsibility, many degrees of freedom and truly exciting projects. At TNO we aim to bridge the gap between academia and the industry, by turning conceptual/academic ideas into real-world demonstrations. On a day-to-day basis, I work in multi-disciplinary teams with fruitful collaborations with industry partners, space agencies and academic institutions.
TAKE AWAY: WHAT CAN OTHERS LEARN FROM YOUR STORY?
Value your network of colleagues, friends and family. Both for getting feedback on your plans for the future and to help you identify (job) opportunities. Be aware, with your specific PhD specialization you may not find a large number of potential employers and job vacancies which exactly match your background and interests. Rather than waiting for the right job vacancy to come online, consider open applications or requesting a ‘cup of coffee’ to meet your future employer.