In 2021, over four million job seekers visited Academic Positions to look for PhD, postdoc and faculty positions, including Fabian Schmidt. Fabian is now a doctoral student in computer science at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, a position he found on Academic Positions. He’s part of a project aimed at developing machine learning methods to improve treatment adherence, efficiency, and efficacy in clinical psychology. He talked to us about his experience job hunting on Academic Positions. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
When did you decide to do a PhD?
I had it in mind for some time, but it was during my master’s thesis that I decided I really wanted to do it. I worked on quite an applied research topic with Charité, one of the hospitals in Berlin. The focus was on applying deep learning techniques on medical images. My supervisors were really good and they helped me understand what you need to do research. That's when I decided to apply to PhD positions and not go into industry.
Were you always open to going abroad for your PhD?
At first, I applied to positions in my home country, mostly in Berlin. But then I realized that that was quite a narrow search so it became clear that I needed to look abroad. Plus, I like studying abroad. I went abroad during both my bachelor's and master’s so I was not reluctant to go abroad.
How did you first start looking for PhD positions?
I looked for positions on university websites. Back then I didn't know about Academic Positions yet, so I was basically just Googling keywords for the position or domain that I was interested in plus the cities, which was time consuming. I would end up on university websites, which only show opportunities at one university. Plus the user interfaces weren’t always up to date. I had a few cases where I would find a position that was really interesting, but the application period had already expired.
How did you find the Academic Positions website?
When I started looking for positions abroad in Sweden, I came across a position in one of my searches that was hosted on Academic Positions. I started looking at the website and saw the advantages of using it. On the left hand side of the job search page, you can filter for which level of position you’re interested in as well as the field and location, which is way nicer than Googling. And it wasn’t just positions, the website also had tips about, for example, what to do once you arrive in Sweden and how to get settled.
What was the experience like looking for jobs on Academic Positions compared to the university websites or other job boards?
I really like clean design and that there are no advertisements. It's not just that I have ad blocker on, there are no advertisements by default. Other job search websites are way too cluttered with irrelevant information. The filtering capabilities are really good too. You can refine your search as you go if you want to add another city for example.
What made Academic Positions stand out?
It’s great that Academic Positions is quite specific and has only academic jobs. I’m not interested in industry jobs, which might come up on Google based on the keywords I'm using. Maybe for somebody who's undecided between academia and industry it might make more sense to look somewhere like LinkedIn, but if you really have narrowed it down to just academia, it's so much better to use Academic Positions.
Speaking as a candidate, what would you say are the advantages of advertising a job on Academic Positions?
It's a win-win for both sides. It makes it easier for students who want to apply for a PhD or any other academic position. And from a university perspective, you get more applicants for that position. There were a few times I only found a job by visiting the university website. It wasn’t mentioned on any other platform, which means it wasn’t accessible to many possible applicants. It doesn’t make sense to just publish a job in one place. There's really no reason to not use Academic Positions.