Seminar Retreat: Organising a welcome structure for new PhD students!

We, the student representatives of the natural sciences, are pleased to announce the first edition of our “Erstsemestrigentutor:innen-Ausblidungs Seminar for PhD-Students”, which will take place from Nov. 17-20th 2022 at Lindenhof Lentsch and will be paid by the ÖH (Austrian student representatives). Check out these two links (German: here1, here2) to learn more about “Erstituts”.

About the project

Erstsemestrigentutor:innen-Ausblidungs Seminar is quite a long German word, so we would like to explain it a bit more. In undergraduate/Bachelor studies in Austria, it is quite common that older students welcome younger students at the University. The goal is to help them find their way into living in a new city, studying a new subject and making new friends. At the PhD level, such an infrastructure does not exist, which is why we want to start building a buddy network with regular activities. This will benefit the buddies (by getting them to leave the lab/office and do fun things regularly) and the new students who feel more welcomed in Vienna. So if you would like to become a buddy for new PhD students, or create regular events that other PhD students can attend, then this is a very good place to start.

About the Seminar

The main focus of the seminar will be a group dynamics and interpersonal skills training, as we want to provide you with tools and knowledge necessary for helping others. Thus this 4-day seminar is targeted specifically to expand the transferable skillset of early-career researchers in the natural sciences. It helps improve self efficacy and shows us blind spots we might have. Working in a small group, the participants will be guided by two professional trainers, Elena Beringer and Tobias Schwarzmann, to lead groups of participants from diverse backgrounds, navigate social dynamics and resolve interpersonal conflicts. As we are often told, most PhD students in the natural sciences will later attain positions of responsibility in their careers, leading projects and working groups, which requires us to develop a solid interpersonal skillset. Attending this seminar will provide early career researchers with theoretical background for and practical experience with leading groups and managing interpersonal relations. The main concept of this seminar is that the people attending are the ones who will decide which topics are discussed with which intensity, so there is a lot of room for personal development and learning in the areas in which you want to grow.

What you should bring to this seminar is an open mindest, motivation to learn new things and see new perspectives. Also comfy clothing and jogging pants would be advantageous.

About the location

The seimar will take place at Lindenhof Lentsch, the lovely place where we’ve held our previous retreats and which gave us our current website header (from a nature hike). Aside from the workshop facilities, there’s the opportunity to play tennis, go bouldering, hiking or just for long nature walks and go to the sauna if wanted. We will have 14 sessions during the seminar, which means that there will be a lot of work, but also we want to have good time there. At the moment we are working on writing to the doctorate schools and deans of different faculties so that we can ask for “Dienstfreistellung” for the trip, as we know that holidays are precious. Let’s hope this works!

About the trainers

Elena Beringer ist a professional facilitator, moderator and podcaster. She is mainly working with groups on topics like teambuilding, processes and communication, conflict management and self responsibility. As Elena has a formal education in environmental and bioressource management she is also facilitating workshops and seminars around topics like sustainability and climate change. Another focal point are issues around gender and diversity.
Currently she is also employed at the university of natural resources for the Alliance of Sustainable Universities in Austria.

Tobias Schwarzmann is a sailor, professional trainer and facilitator with a specialization in violence prevention. The thematic focal point of his work is personal development which includes but is not limited to the sphere of emotions, as well as communication, process- and conflictmanagement for groups. Furthermore, the topic of critical masculinity is not only immensely relevant in his workshops but also for himself. Although emotions and logical decisions may be regarded as polar opposites, his background in physics provide him with the tools to combine the two fields in a meaningful way.

You can sign up here

If you already signed up that doesn’t count as that sign up was only provisional (: