Combining information from different websites and things I knew about, I’ve put together a list of graduate centers, career centers and transferable skills (soft skills) programs for PhD students and postdocs in Switzerland. Initially I was only looking for information for PhD students, but as my search results were often concerning postdocs too, I believe that the list below is also of interest for postdocs.

Hoping this resource will help PhD students and postdocs in Switzerland to find support networks and training to help them thrive in academia.

  • Basel

GRACE Graduate Center for Doctoral Candidates and Postdocs

Here their website and here their Transferable Skills (Soft Skills) program

A beautiful website with lots of information and with subsections specific for PhD students, for postdocs, for supervisors, and they also have a program to support women careers

Career Service Center

Here the Career Service Center website.

“We offer our Bachelor, Master and PhD students, as well as recent graduates, various services and support them in getting started in the working world. Our services include workshops, counseling sessions, MEET&CONNECT events and much more. All of this is designed to provide students with extra information or guidance on topics revolving around job applications, career planning and career opportunities.”

 

  • Bern

PhD students can also access the CUSO transferable skills program (see the Western Switzerland part below).

UniBe Transferable Skills Program

The course program ”Transferable Skills“ is free of charge for postdocs and doctoral candidates of the University of Bern.”

COMET Career Program for Women Postdocs

Here their website. “Coaching, Mentoring, Training for female researchers”

“The University of Bern’s career programme is part of the strategy for 2021 of the University of Bern. It complements the university’s already existing mentoring programmes and is aimed specifically at female postdoctoral researchers of all faculties.”

MVUB - Intermediate Staff Association

Here their website.

“The intermediate staff consists of all doctoral (PhD) students, assistants, postdocs, lecturers and other academic staff with the exception of professors.”

Counseling Centre Universities of Bern

They offer counseling, coaching and workshops to students and uni staff (mainly in German).

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

The GCB offers special courses in cellular and biomedical sciences and also transferable skills.

And here a list of Graduate Schools in Bern.

 

  • Fribourg

Coaching Program for PhD students from the Centre Did@cTIC

As I wrote in last week blog post, the Centre for Teaching and Learning of UniFr, better known as the Centre Did@cTIC, offers two coaching training depending on how far you are in the PhD. The first one called “Tame your PhD” is for students who are in the beginning to the middle of their thesis, it’s subtitled “how to develop as a PhD student.” The second one is for Advanced PhD students and is subtitled “let’s go finishing your dissertation together!”

Career Center, Uni Social and Academic Services

Here the website of the Career Center of UniFr, unfortunately (as of June 2019) the website works only in French and in German suggesting that they will work only in French or German… They can help with CV and cover letter writing, to elaborate a career project, to prepare for job interviews, they also organize workshops on these subjects. It is situated at the Centre Fries, just like Uni Social.

Uni Social can provide you with individual coaching, with support to help with CV writing and job applications, with support in case of conflict (mediation office) and even psychological support as I talked in this previous blog post about a PhD student friend’s mental health difficulty at UniFr.

Here is the website of the psychological counseling service of UniFr, and here to get an overview of all academic services.

CSWM - Intermediate Staff Association

The CSWM is the association des Collaborateurs et collaboratrices scientifiques / Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter und Mitarbeiterinnen of the University of Fribourg.

Their website is either in French or German but they link to this part of the UniFr website which is available in English and which has information for PhD students and postdocs.

 

  • Geneva

Career Center DIFE

Career Center in the DIFE (Division de la Formation et des Étudiants).

Their website seems to be only in French but they do offer some workshops in English, they have information specific for PhD students here, and here their Transferable Skills offers.

Life Sciences Doctoral School and Students Union

Since 2018, the Faculty of Sciences and Medicine created a PhD School of Life Sciences (PSLS). Checkout their beautiful website here with precious information about available courses, in particular this PDF, and helpful FAQs.

There is also the PhAGE association (or union) of PhD students in Life Sciences with a dedicated website full of interesting information. They have blog posts and tips for your PhD studies.

APDU - Post-Doc Association

Checkout their website here, their mentoring program and other useful information here.

“We are a group of motivated PostDocs from the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Geneva. The goal of our newly-formed association is to strengthen social and scientific ties between us, here at UNIGE, and to promote career development for postdocs by organising a mentoring program, academic meetings and career forums. We are open to all Faculties and Disciplines at the University of Geneva. Join us!”

 

  • Lausanne

Unil Graduate Campus - for PhDs and postdocs

Here for the unil website and here their list of activities on their independent website.

“The University of Lausanne offers a number of workshops designed for doctoral candidates and postdocs of all faculties.”

Unil Orientation and Career Service (SOC)

Here their website, they offer services like “coaching emploi.”

Divers associations

  • ACIDUL – Intermediate Staff Association

Association du corps intermédiaire et des doctorant.e.s de l’Université de Lausanne.

  • ADAS– Association of PhD students and assitant in Sciences, by the Biology and Medicine Faculty

Association des Doctorants et Assistants en Sciences de la Faculté de Biologie et de Médecine de l’Université de Lausanne

  • APNS Association for Postdocs in Natural Sciences
  • BSNL Bioscience Network Lausanne

“The BioScience Network Lausanne (BSNL) is an association of PhD students and Postdocs working in various fields of Life Sciences at EPFL and UNIL.”

EPFL

EPFL Career Centre and ACIDE association of intermediate staff and PhD students.

 

  • Luzern

Generic Skills Program

“The Generic Skills courses are directed towards students who are doing a doctorate/PhD as well as the mid-level faculty and is free of charge for them.”

 

  • Neuchâtel

Career Center and ACINE Intermediate Staff Association (Association du corps intermédiaire de l’Université de Neuchâtel).

 

  • St Gallen

Young Investigator Program

“We help future researchers build interdisciplinary competencies, get to grips with the academic system, and tackle questions and conflicts that emerge during qualification and career planning.”

First time I see PhD Writing Groups clearly advertised in Switzerland.

“Our PhD-Writing Groups offer you regular time and space for writing your PhD thesis or related papers.”

 

  • Zurich

UZH Graduate Campus - for PhD students and postdocs

Graduate Campus is a one-stop source of information and activities for PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers at the University of Zurich. A variety of courses and events provide opportunities to gain further qualifications, engage in research-relevant topics and exchange insights and ideas with peers.”

Here their Transferable Skills program.

UZH - VAUZ Intermediate staff association

Association of doctoral students, postdocs and scientific employees. Here on their website a nice video explaining what they’re doing.

“The Association of doctoral students, post docs and scientific employees of the University of Zurich, is here to represent the interests of the academic mid-level staff vis-à-vis the University and the public. On this site you will find relevant information about the VAUZ, our political activities and our services.”

The VAUZ association also “conducted a survey on working conditions and supervision among PhDs and Post-docs at the UZH. From a total of 6022 persons eligible for participation, more than 750 PhDs and Post-Docs participated in the survey.” and the report is available on their website.

Here to their “coaching, consulting and counseling” service.

UZH Career Services

Here their website. They have a counseling service, career planning guides, a drop-in service every Thursday to check your CV and application materials, and more.

ETHZ Career Centre and Recruiting

Here their website.

“We support students and doctoral students through various career services for the transition into the professional world.” and their counseling service.

ETHZ Human Resources courses

Here they have courses on themes like leadership, project management for research, career, and health promotion.

 

  • Western Switzerland / Suisse Romande

BADOC for the HES-SO

Seems to be only in French.

Ici le site du BADOC = Bureau d’appui et de coordination de la formation doctorale pour les HES-SO = Hautes Ecoles Spécialisées de Suisse Occidentale.

“En collaboration avec l’Université de Lausanne et plus particulièrement son Graduate Campus- le BADOC propose un soutien et des ressources aux différentes personnes impliquées dans la formation doctorale à la HES⁠-⁠SO. Il offre en outre une plus grande visibilité aux recherches menées par les doctorantes et doctorants dans les différentes hautes écoles. Le BADOC tient aussi lieu de veille scientifique en matière de pratiques effectives de direction de thèses et de développement professionnel des chercheur-e-s en début de carrière.”

CUSO Conference of Western Swiss Universities - for PhD students

The CUSO is divided in many field-specific doctoral programs (like law, ecology & evolution, English etc… ) and one common program providing transferable skills (soft skills) workshops for PhD students from all its field-specific doctoral programs.

“The transversal programme is intended for doctoral candidates enrolled in any of the CUSO doctoral programmes. It offers a diverse range of workshops to help you develop your transferable skills.”

More about what the CUSO transferable skills program can bring you in your PhD student life in this blog post where I explained how it saved my PhD.

The CUSO is also organizing the Swiss MT180 contest (Ma thèse en 180secondes).

REGARD Network for women in research - for PhD students, postdocs and higher

“The transversal skills workshop program for women researchers”

The REGARD workshops offer you concrete tools for your academic career management – whether you are a PhD candidate, a member of the mid-level faculty or a women professor.”

“The REGARD program offers workshops for female researchers and professors from the Universities of Fribourg, Lausanne, Geneva and Neuchâtel, as well as from the HES-SO and EPFL. More than 20 workshops tackle academic career planning, research project management, communication tools and personal development.”

Women Mentoring Network - for PhD students, postdocs and higher

Réseau romand de mentoring pour femmes

“The Réseau romand is a mentoring program for the next generation of women. It helps female researchers in resolving all issues related to academic life organization as well as their scientific project’s completion.”

 

  • ETH Domain and Women in Science – Fix the Leaking Pipeline

Here the website of the Fix the Leaking Pipeline program.

“The aim of the program organized by all institutions of the ETH Domain is to support women in their scientific careers and in the process to fix the “leaky pipeline” of women in science.”

“The Fix the Leaky Pipeline program offers young female scientists (doctoral students, postdocs and other young scientists) the opportunity to reflect on their professional situations, to develop a strategy for embarking on or continuing their career paths, to receive targeted further training, and to extend their personal and scientific networks.”

They are offering courses on subjects like career planning, leadership, self-marketing, and they also have a coaching program and a mentoring program.

 

  • Other good resources / website:

Swiss Transferable Skills Network (STSN)

On this page they have a list of transferable skills programs in Switzerland.

“The Swiss Transferable Skills Network began in 2014 and is composed of the managers of transferable skills training and career development for junior researchers (primarily doctoral candidates and postdocs) from across the Swiss university system. It currently includes representatives from the Universities of Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, St Gallen and Zurich, the ETHZ and EPFL, the CUSO and Regard (Bureaux de l’égalité) programmes in western Switzerland, as well as representation from swissuniversities.”

Fix the leaky pipeline - useful links page

While this program is organized by ETH institutions in Switzerland, on their page “useful links” they link to many other Women in Science or science-related programs (like the SNF) in Switzerland but also in Germany, Austria and within the European Commission.

The actionuni association, representing research staff from all Switzerland

It looks like a good association to know about and to follow.

“[actionuni] represents young researchers as well as the associations of non-professorial academic staff of the Swiss cantonal universities, the Federal Institutes of Technology, the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences, and the Swiss Universities of Teacher Education on the Swiss national as well as the international level. actionuni’s objectives are to improve the academic career tracks and to coordinate the activities of the Swiss associations of non-professorial academic staff.

Resources page on portfolio-formation.ch by Dr.Verity Elston

Dr. Verity Elston is actively involved in transferable skills programs in Switzerland (CUSO, Lausanne Graduate Campus).

In her resource she’s linking to many good websites to find PhD students’ advice, for looking for jobs, and she was the first one to make a list of career centers and graduate programs in Switzerland.

 

Thanks for looking through this resource. I hope you found helpful information and please help other students and postdocs in Switzerland to find these information by sharing this resource around you :)

And if you know of more graduate centers, career programs or soft skills programs for PhD students and postdocs in Swiss universities, please let us know in the comment below 👇

Another great way to learn about what is going on in Switzerland like workshops, events, career days or even funding opportunities is… Twitter!! Have a look at my resource of Twitter @ and # for PhD Students and follow Twitter lists like mine, or the Euresearch network one and their Swiss Universities one.