Need some career inspiration for after your postdoc?
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 Amandine's personal story. After her PhD and postdoc, she started working as a medior researcher at TNO - Brightlands Materials Center.
Name: Amandine Codou
Master’s degree: Chemistry & Materials (University of Le Mans & University of Nice)
PhD degree: Polymer Physic and Chemistry (University of Nice)
Postdoc: Bioproducts Discovery and Development Center (University of Guelph)
Current position: Medior Scientist Specialist (TNO – Brightlands Materials Center)
"The complementary practical and theoretical background, the experience in writing grant proposals, and my overall background gained during my postdoc were key in finding my next job."
AMBITION: WHAT WAS YOUR AMBITION IN TERMS OF CAREER PERSPECTIVE, DURING YOUR POSTDOC?
I had no clear position in mind but wanted to follow the ideas I was passionate about. My main motivations were a strong interest and belief in sustainability and the need to contribute to useful and tangible products. After my PhD this led me to Canada for a 3-years postdoc. During this postdoc I focused on the development of bioproducts using agricultural waste.
This experience helped me define my main requirements for my next job: the field, type of activities, as well as the company’s culture were important focus points for me.
DIFFICULTIES: WHICH UNCERTAINTIES DID YOU FACE?
In the South East of France, where I come from, the jobs in my field are limited. Being ready and flexible to travel allowed me to follow my job wishes. Finding such a job involved frequently checking the offers submitted on multiple relevant websites and applying for positions in several countries.
In the last decade, energy & material transitions, sustainability, reducing material waste and the carbon footprint were hot topics. This rising importance and the direction taken by European legislation comforted my career choice.
HELPING HAND: WHAT HELPED YOU IN TAKING THE CAREER STEP?
During my PhD my research approach was very fundamental, investigating the structure of polymers molecules and how they influence the properties of the products. However, I was missing all the processing steps of shaping the product. So I was looking for a more applied research topic, at the interface of academia and industry, where I could use my knowledge of polymer physics to develop products. That’s what I found in the postdoc in Canada, where I got the opportunity to work with many companies, step in industrial issues, learn a different research approach, deal with upscaling questions, etc.
The complementary practical and theoretical background, the experience in writing grant proposals, and my overall background gained during my postdoc were key in finding my next job. Without these 3 years of training I would not have gotten my current position.
PERSONAL GROWTH: WHY IS THIS JOB OUTSIDE OF ACADEMIA A GOOD FIT FOR YOU?
From my master's to my postdoc my main focus was on the study and development of biobased materials, while in my current position I’m developing technologies to recycle them. During this career journey I learned to be more open-minded, flexible on the topic but also on the field of expertise.
Besides this, I really like the diversity in my tasks as a scientist at TNO. I do not only lead research, but I also contribute to writing proposals in consultation with customers and partners, I supervise research engineers and students, and I contribute to the dissemination by participating in conferences, fairs and writing scientific articles and patents.
These multidisciplinary tasks allow me to get a very good interaction with all key players, have a good overview of the topic, and stay up-to-date with trends and technologies on the market.
TAKE AWAY: WHAT CAN OTHERS LEARN FROM YOUR STORY?
My overall conclusion would be to stay open minded and flexible about work location as well as the job function. And even though all those years pull most of your energy into research, try to stay close to what drives you in your work and what resonates with you.
Want to read more personal stories from researchers in other sectors? Navigate your career on AcademicsConnected and be inspired!