I would like to briefly explain my situation: I am currently a doctoral student at a German university of applied sciences in a small but growing institute (with a relatively good working climate). I am doing research in the engineering sciences in a sub-field that only seems to be significant for a very small amount of potential employers in industrial practice. However, I really like my job and, hence, considered doing a postdoc. After telling my supervisor that I would be interested in such a position, he has now offered me a post-doctoral position at my current institute, but has informed me that I must decide at this point in time whether I see my future in academia or industry.

His words actually got me thinking, as now I fear that the decision of picking up a post-doctoral position could potentially hurt my future career both in industry and academia due to the following reasons:

  1. As I have got my whole education at the same university of applied sciences, my chances of getting a position in academia seem to be very low. As, in my personal experience, universities of applied sciences often tend to be sneered at by the German scientific community, I assume that I won't really be able to gain a foothold in academia with my CV. The fact that I have never seen another university from the inside by the time of finishing the postdoc will certainly make this worse. I can also imagine going into teaching, but here too my education at a university of applied sciences will probably throw a spanner in the works.
  2. The engineering industry already doesn't really thank you for having a PhD, as many of my former colleagues had difficulties of finding a job with their doctorate. Doing a postdoc will certainly exacerbate this probem and possibly block my path into industry positions or industrial research.

Outside the fact that I really like my current job, my group of colleagues, and the work as a researcher (and that I might be able to bridge the effects of the pandemic on the job market by accepting the post-doc position), I can now think of only few reasons to accept the job, although I would really like to. Accepting the postdoc position is definitely a very good decision in the short term as it fits well with my current living situation, but in the long term the assumptions made above could certainly cause huge problems.

Am I thinking too negatively here or could accepting a postdoc position really be detrimental to my future on the basis of these reasons? Is it generally a problem that a postdoc could make one unemployable for the industry? Could it also be that, having spent my entire education at a small university of applied sciences, I should expect reprisals in a career in academia, too?

I know that no one here can make the decision for me, but I would appreciate your thoughts about my assumptions stated above.

  • What about an academic career at a university of applied sciences?
    – Sursula
    Feb 3, 2022 at 10:48
  • @Sursula For this, to my knowledge, one typically needs five years or more of industrial practice, which could be difficult to obtain based on my above assumptions. And even after that, I still potentially have to assert myself against stronger competition, i.e. candidates from universities or candidates with more varied CVs.
    – pbaer
    Feb 3, 2022 at 11:00
  • One, why do you assume having a PhD is a problem for industrial research? Two, generally it is considered a good idea to do a post-doc somewhere else, mainly because you have a new experience and can more easily show independence from you PhD advisor.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 3, 2022 at 14:46
  • @JonCuster I assume it to be a problem because of the experiences of my former colleagues who were very much struggling to get a job (which, however, may be due to the current pandemic). Generally I also assume that it would be better to do the post-doc somewhere else because of the reasoning you gave. But, given that I got the offer from my supervisor who I can work with very well, I wouldn't necessarily like to "change a winning team" unless I have to.
    – pbaer
    Feb 3, 2022 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


In answer to your two concerns:

  1. Getting a position in academia is always difficult. That said, although the institute you obtained your PhD and post-doc from will have some sway, the most important factor will probably be your publication record. Do you think you will be able to publish much from your PhD/post-doc before the post-doc finishes. If so you have a good chance of getting a position and/or another post-doc (many people do multiple post-docs these days), especially if you're willing to move geographically and so widen your opportunities. If you don't expect to publish much and/or you're not prepared to move, then getting an academic position after your post-doc may be difficult.

  2. I moved into industry after a post-doc. I wouldn't say it will harm your prospects, but it may not increase them much. In my experience employers don't tend to value post-doc experience much over having a PhD, so if you do a post-doc then move into industry you may find your wages are similar to people with just a PhD despite you being older/having more experience than them.

  • Thank you for your answer, you relieved some of my anxiety already. Firstly, because I like my job and my workplace, I'm glad to hear that taking a postdoc position here will probably not harm my prospects if I had to move into the industry later. As long as it's not harming my prospects, I am okay with it. Secondly, if it's really more about the publication record when transitioning into academia and less about the prestige of the university, I at least have a way of taking my fate in my own hands.
    – pbaer
    Feb 3, 2022 at 15:46

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