Academy Job Shadow Days report

Maartje Aukes at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

Maartje's report in English on her job shadow experience will be published online shortly.

Maartje Aukes, policy advisor at the Academy Bureau, shadowed Dorien Bisselink, HR team leader at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.

It was an ideal match

I didn’t list the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience as a specific choice, but Dorien had asked to shadow someone who worked on policy matters in the Bureau. It was an ideal match. I found it fascinating to look at support for research and researchers from the perspective of both our disciplines.

Former neuroscience researcher

We started by attending part of the new employee introductory meeting. I’m somewhat familiar with the institute because I attended classes there when I was doing my doctoral research. Not much has changed. The cafeteria and coffee lounge still look precisely the same. The building is a bit fortress-like. Trijntje Sjoerdsma, assistant manager of the MRI facility, gave me a tour of the new Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging, the result of a partnership between the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, the University of Amsterdam and its medical centre AMC, and VU University Amsterdam and its medical centre VUMC. What a fabulous building! So much light and space! And such an outstanding facility for researchers.

Turns out we run into the same issues

Dorien and I talked about our jobs. It turns out she and I run into the same issues, she in her work as P&O team leader and I in mine as a policy advisor. The issues were familiar ones: research assistants working like mad on their PhDs, the limited career options in research. All things that I too dealt with as a researcher. After I obtained my PhD, I worked as a postdoc for a time. But after a while, the money ran out. And then it was clear to me that my career in research was finished. I find what I do now – advising The Young Academy, the Social Sciences Council, and the Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences and Law Domain on policy – interesting, and it suits me.

Street Knowledge and Science Buddies

Dorien had heard about two Young Academy projects, Kennis op Straat (‘Street Knowledge’, short lectures by young and eager researchers working in a range of disciplines) and Science Buddies, for refugee researchers (helping them get a foot in the door at Dutch universities). She wanted to know whether she could contribute. When Dorien shadows me in return, I’m going to hook her up with Jorrit Kafoe, our policy officer. I know he’ll be delighted with her offer.

Looking back

I really enjoyed talking to someone from HR and hearing about her work. That gave me a good impression of the practical side of things. It’s also useful to extend my network this way. Once you’ve met someone face-to-face, it’s easier to give them a call or send an e-mail when you’ve got a question.