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Career Development for Postdocs

Career Development for Postdocs

Postdoc Internship Program (PIP)


The DKFZ Career Service supports Postdocs in career development and career decisions. As the postdoctoral research phase is not a long-term position, and not all Postdocs are later able to become more senior academic researchers (e.g. independent group leaders), it is important that they inform themselves about possible career paths. Since Postdocs very often lack experience and exposure to non-academic or non-research work environments and they seldom have the opportunity to obtain first-hand experience of what non-academic positions entail, it is an extra challenge to decide on a particular career option. The longer a Postdoc remains in Academia, the more challenging it is to become aware of how their interests match different career options.

The DKFZ Postdoc Internship Program (PIP) is financed by the Helmholtz Impulse and Networking Fund as an extension of the DKFZ Career Center. The DKFZ PIP provides selected Postdocs with the opportunity to pause their postdoctoral research for up to 3 months to complete an internship (also called hospitation) in a company, association or another non-academic employer (called "host").

During the selection rounds priority will be given to Postdocs who obtained their doctoral degree four or more years prior to the application for the internship, who have worked for at least one year at the DKFZ, discussed their career options with their supervisor, and who have a clear motivation and awareness of how an internship will benefit their career orientation and/or transition.

Career Development Preparation


Postdocs at DKFZ have the opportunity to develop and document their career interests and plans on our CareerCheck platform ( Postdocs should have completed Career Checkpoints 1 to 4 (described below) and have performed in-depth career orientation including at least three informational interviews and the creation of a Career Development Plan (CDP). To prepare for an internship application, Postdocs can benefit from career guidance sessions with Career Service to take them through the Career Checkpoints, which are shortly described below:

  1. Find your potential: career orientation starts by gaining basic but vital knowledge about oneself and the job market.
  2. Identify preferred elements: this Checkpoint supports the identification of the essential tasks and values that should be present in the future job without concentrating on the job titles.
  3. Generate an orientation strategy: this is a preparation for the next Checkpoint and aims to build upon the preferred tasks and values to generate questions that will help the Postdoc obtain relevant information about the possible career steps in an informational interview.
  4. Conduct targeted exploration: At this step, Postdocs are encouraged to approach interesting professionals for informational interviews, take the lead in the discussion and acquire relevant information according to their individual needs. The DKFZ Alumni platform is a good source for this.

Particularly at Checkpoint 4, it is of benefit for the Postdoc to carry out an internship to gain first-hand experience about a certain type of position and to clarify career goals. During informational interviews with professionals, the Postdoc can already inquire as to whether they may be interested in hosting an internship (necessary for the application procedure, see next section).

Application Documents

Interested applicants should provide the following documents by the application deadline:

  • A letter of motivation and a short CV
  • A Career Development Plan (CDP) including achievements and names of at least 3 persons with whom an informational interview has been conducted
  • Host (company or institute) where internship can be conducted and email of a contact person at the host (ideally including informal email "statement of interest" by the host; if applicant did not receive any response this can also be stated as such)
  • Earliest, latest and preferred starting date in 2023 and planned duration (1, 2 or 3 months)
  • A letter of consent signed by the Postdoc's supervisor. The Postdoc Office and Career Service will be available to provide information to the Supervisor upon request, and if considered useful, participate in a joint meeting

The DKFZ Career Service will be available to support Postdocs in preparing their application (cover letter writing and CV checks), suggestions and practical advice for informational interviews and contacting companies, as well as communicating aims and benefits to Supervisors).


Further internal information about the program and registration forms can be found here.

Host Agreement

The Host will be asked to provide a signed agreement about responsibilities, obligations, and benefits for the duration of the internship. This agreement has to be signed WITHIN 3 MONTHS after provisional acceptance. After this date, funding cannot be guaranteed as internships on the waiting list will be offered the possibility to negotiate a contract as well.


A list of the frequently asked questions can be downloaded here.

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