Programme Manager

Dr. Susanne Elpers
Officer for Early Career Researchers with a focus on Postdocs and Equal Opportunities

Target group: Female doctoral candidates in the final phase (disseration must be submitted no longer than 3 months after the start of the programme) and early postdoctoral researchers* (max. 3 years after the doctorate)
Mentors: UOL internal and external professors, leaders from business, industry, culture
Duration: 12 months
Number of participants: 6-8 mentoring partnerships
Start: Q4 2023
30th of June 2023 (for details see application procedure)
Fee: Participation is free of charge
Language: German


Antje Rach studied communication and media science (Dipl.) at the Technical University of Ilmenau. After working in England and Russia, she worked for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit for about nine years. Here she was in charge of marketing communications for the CHE university ranking and the student magazine ZEIT CAMPUS, among others.
In 2014, she founded her consulting agency Worte & Wandel. As a trainer and systemic coach, she has since been advising academia and business on the topics of career development, diversity, time & self-management, confident appearance, and work-life balance. Antje Rach works with graduate academies and scientific institutions throughout Germany and has accompanied numerous doctoral students and postdocs on their way in coaching sessions, mentoring programs and workshops.

"Potentials. Career orientation and planning for female researchers*"

The current round started in October 2023! The application process is closed.

Doctoral candidates who are close to completing their doctorate and postdoctoral researchers who are still at an early stage often have not yet reached a definitive decision as to where their career path should lead or do not know exactly what steps are necessary to achieve their goal. By exchanging experiences with colleagues in a similar situation and with experienced people who have followed similar paths and hold attractive positions, questions about their own career orientation can be clarified particularly well.

The programme ‘Potentials. Career orientation and planning for female researchers’ is aimed in particular at highly qualified women* who want to successfully continue their career either in academia or in the non-academic field, but are still looking for the perspective that suits them. Participation in the mentoring programme can help with orientation. Female researchers* who were the first in their family to attend university are expressly invited to apply.

One-to-one mentoring partnerships last for twelve months and form the driving force of professional development at this stage. Mentoring partnerships must be carefully prepared and are orientated entirely to the needs of the mentee. For example, experiences gained by people who were the first in their family to attend university could be addressed, if desired. Therefore, the mentees themselves select the mentor who is suitable for them. They will be supported by the vice president and the coordinator during the process of contacting them.

The mentoring partnership is complemented by a supporting programme that allows the mentees to reflect on the individual mentoring partnership and personal development with their peers and a professional coach. The supporting programme includes a preparatory workshop, an interim workshop and a final workshop, as well as the opportunity to take part in individual coaching sessions with the trainer.

In addition, workshops, discussion evenings or lectures, which are organized according to the wishes of the mentees, offer the opportunity to acquire complementary interdisciplinary knowledge and to network with one another.

Both mentees and mentors receive a certificate at the end of the mentoring programme.

The programme coordinator will be happy to assist prospective mentors with questions and advice.

*This refers to all persons who identify as female researchers. This explicitly includes trans*, inter* and non-binary people who identify as female. Female researchers with a disability will be given priority in the application procedures. The term ‘mentor’ also refers to all people who want to take on this task, regardless of their gender identity.

Preliminary schedule and content

"Potentials. Career orientation and planning for female researchers*"
(Details may be subject to change to meet the needs of mentees and mentors and will be announced in good time.)

Preliminary Schedule and Contents 2023/24







from 02/2023

Call for applications (request for letters of motivation, CV, application form with possible mentors) and programme applications on the Graduate Academy website
(Deadline: 30.06.2023)



Introductory interviews

VP N, coordinator


Invitation of mentees


13.09.2023 Opening event (and closing ceremony for „Progressio”) VP N, central equal opportunities officer, trainers, coordinator, mentees and mentors


Preparatory workshop for mentees (clarification of expectations, objectives and preparation for the selection of mentors) Coordination of additionally desired workshops or lecture topics; introduction to peer coaching)

Trainer and coordinator, mentees


Mentor recruitment

VP N and coordinator


Organization of the desired workshops/lectures



Initial mentee–mentor meeting

Mentee and mentor


Regular mentoring meetings (approximately every 4-6 weeks for 1.5 to 2 hours)

Mentee and mentor

02/2024 Group coaching session for mentors Trainer, mentors
03/2024 first additionally desired workshop (after arrangement) N.N., mentees

17. and 18.04.2024

Interim workshop for mentees (reflection on past mentoring experiences) plus individual coaching sessions (by individual agreement)

Trainer, mentees

05 or 06/2024

second additionally desired workshop (after arrangement) N.N., mentees
18 and 19.09.2024 Closing workshop and individual coaching sessions (by individual agreement) for mentees Trainer, mentees


Closing ceremony for mentees and mentors, presentation of certificates (at the same time opening event for „Progressio”)

VP N, central equal opportunities officer, trainers, coordinator, mentees and mentors

Application procedure

The application procedure consists of two phases:

Please send us the completed application form with a short letter of motivation by 30.06.2023 (max. 1 page), in which you discuss your current professional situation and your career development goals.

Following the evaluation by the selection committee, a short introductory interview will take place (approx. 10 minutes).

The further procedure will be explained with the subsequent notification.


„Before starting this course, I had a lot of fear of how to communicate with others about my goals and objectives but this course helped me to be an open-minded person to the coordinators, my mentor and my fellow colleagues. I hope to proceed with the skills that I acquired.” – Mentee 2021-2022

(Changed: 29 May 2024)  | 
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