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Working In Optics

Aline Dinkelaker, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

The career event “Working in Optics in Berlin” took place on 15 June at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and was funded by the OSA Ambassador Program. It was organized by Aline Dinkelaker, OSA Ambassador, and the student chapter BerlinOptik. More than 80 participants registered to attend the event, with participants from each of the three universities in Berlin as well as from other cities.

We invited speakers from academia, research institutes and industry to present their career paths and their current jobs with an emphasis on their day-to-day work. The talks were followed by a “Meet-the-Experts” session, during which all participants could talk to the speakers in a more informal atmosphere and ask questions. This part was accompanied by a buffet and drinks.

The goal of the “Working in Optics in Berlin” event was to support career planning for students and young professionals in the field of optics. Many of the students that are about to complete their degrees in physics (Bachelor/Master/PhD) do not yet have a clear idea about their career paths. Often, they look for more information about careers in industry and academia. The event allowed prospective graduates to get an insight into different possible working environments. Companies and institutes likewise had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the students and talk to potential new employees. This provided a platform for students, companies, universities and research institutes to meet, exchange information and connect.

Professor Dr. Jürgen Mlynek, former president of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and former president of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, gave the opening talk, in which he gave advice on careers in academia. Afterwards, we heard presentations by companies like Corning Optical Communications, PicoQuant and VPIphotonics, of the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik, and the co-founder of the company 5micron. They presented their interesting career paths, their current workplace and what tasks they get to do every day. This was particularly helpful, as reading a job description provides only a limited impression of a role. Instead, we could listen to first-hand experiences of what working in optics involves. Additional useful information was provided by the competence network for optical technologies, OpTecBB, who presented the current status of optics industry in Berlin as well as their local optics job search platform. OpTecBB were also a great support during the organization of this event. After each talk, there was time for a short round of questions.

The following “Meet-the-expert” session was met with great interest by the participants. Here, the experts were spread out over several individual tables and we invited everyone to join them in small groups. The tables were crowded and it seemed like there was high demand for information and face-to-face exchange. Both sides, the experts as well as the students and young professionals, found the exchange interesting and helpful. For future events like this, the students hoped for even more companies to participate. After the official event was over, we invited everyone to stay and use this platform for another while if they wanted to, and several groups stayed so that discussions between experts and audience continued. Overall, we had the impression that a majority of participants gained insights, got answers to some of their questions and now might see more possibilities of working in optics in Berlin. 
Image for keeping the session alive