Post PhD Life: Travel adventures, a new job and a new home

It has been a long time since I last wrote on this blog. A lot has happened since I finished my PhD end of 2018 and before I blog on and write about new projects I am involved in, I wanted to catch you up on what happened in the meantime.

Taking some time off

After more than 6 years of working on my PhD thesis next to my day job as a lecturer and programme coordinator, my husband and I took a long break and travelled around the world for a couple of months. This was a quite scary at first (see blog post here), but I am so glad and feel very privileged that we were able to do this.

Next Chapter: New Job

While travelling, I learned about a job opening as a senior researcher at Roessingh Research and Development (RRD) in Enschede (The Netherlands). The job description included

How can we use eHealth technology to map and improve human health? How do we design these innovations on a conceptual and technical level? And how do we make use of concepts, such as personalization, decision support functionalities, and big data? As a senior researcher, you work on these challenges and collaborate in the coming about of successful, cutting-edge eHealth innovations. You perform these tasks in collaboration with the best European companies and research institutes in the area of eHealth.

In your job, you are responsible for:

    • Setting up, executing and managing your own research line (whereby you determine the focus of this research line, in collaboration with the team of senior researchers)
    • Acquiring grants for new research and innovation projects;
    • Managing national and international research and innovation projects;
    • Mentoring junior researchers/PhD students.

You publish the results of your research in scientific journals or you present that at scientific conferences, and/or you bring your innovation to the market, where you (co-)develop value propositions and exploitation strategies.

This sounded like a job made for me – and so I sent my application at the end of April. I was very happy to be invited for a job interview end of May. At that time, we were travelling in a campervan in New Zealand, so we arranged the interview to be conducted on Skype. As I didn’t want to rely on mobile reception and also wanted to have a more suitable environment for the interview than a campervan, we booked an apartment in Tauranga. I got into the second round, for which I was asked to prepare a research proposal. The second interview took place mid June and at this time we were on Cook Islands, so I had to rely on mobile connection. By the way, if you never heard about the Cook Islands, they have the best promo video ever:

During the second interview, the Skype connection was a bit bumpy, but it worked out and a couple of days later (shortly after arriving at Daintree River in the North of Australia), I got the call in which they offered me the job 🥳.

New Home

RRD is located in Enschede (The Netherlands) and quite close to the German border.  As my husband was searching for a job in Germany, we started looking online for a new place close to the Netherlands. We were still travelling when we found a nice place in Bad Bentheim, a small town that even has a little castle (you can see the castle in the background of the bottom left picture in the collage above). My sister and nephew checked the place out for us and we were lucky to get it. Right after returning from our trip end of August, we got the keyes and could move in straight away. We really like this little town and it’s really nice to live closer to my family.

Starting as Senior Researcher

I started my new job at RRD in October and it was nice to have the time to get our new home sorted before taking on this new adventure. It took a while to get accustomed to the feeling of “not knowing stuff” in the new job. I was in my previous job at TH Köln for about 10 years and so you kind of know the place inside out. Now in my new role, with all those new projects and colleagues, in a new organisation and in a new country – I cannot deny that I felt like an imposter. This post describes it quite well and reading it helped a bit:

It’s possible that while you’re navigating that new job, which you are totally qualified for, you might be experiencing imposter syndrome, also known as the imposter phenomenon.

Here’s the truth: Hiring managers aren’t fools. You got the job because you have the skills to do the work—the company believes in you, otherwise you wouldn’t be there.

What really helped me, however, was the support of my colleagues, who are really kind and ensured me that it of course takes time to get the hang of everything. My brain knew that, of course, but it still felt strange and I got a bit impatient with myself. So it really helped to have that support from my colleagues – and it also got better every week. I am really looking forward to collaborate with my colleagues at RRD and at other companies in the European projects we are involved in. This is gonna be awesome and fun!

Erwartungen und Erfahrungen mit für Patienten zugängliche elektronischen Gesundheitsakten (Kurzfassung meiner Dissertation)
Pharaon – Pilots for Active and Healthy Ageing

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