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Why should I apply for a Group Leader position at DANDRITE?

How is the recruitment process? What is it like to be a researcher in Denmark? Are the city of Aarhus and the facilities at Aarhus University attractive? Applying to become the leader of your own lab is a dream for many young scientists. Now two positions have just opened at DANDRITE. Two current GLs share their experiences from sending the applications to accepting the job offer.

Within the next year, DANDRITE is recruiting additional 2 group leaders for a 5+4-year period. With the two new group leaders joining in 2024 DANDRITE embarks on a new decade with five young research leaders pursuing new scientific insights.

Considering starting up a new life in a new city and becoming your own leader may raise many questions and considerations.

Who will be better to ask than the ones who already went on that journey, e.g., the current group leaders? What made them apply for the position and what is their advice if you are considering applying?

Chao Sun and Thomas Kim started as new group leaders on 1 March this year. They came from a postdoc position at Max Planck Institute and Johns Hopkins University, respectively.

Generous start-up and interdisciplinarity

When applying for the position more than a year ago several factors were at play before sending the application:

Chao Sun: “For me, DANDRITE is a leading Danish institute within the research field. The institute is very international and the interdisciplinarity gives great opportunities to expand my field of interest. Also, the start-up fund was much higher than I have met in other universities, and that also played a huge role for me. Lastly being geographically positioned in a city like Aarhus, a medium-to-large-sized city with high quality of life, just added the extra benefit to my considerations.”

Thomas Kim: “I remember it was a combination of many things that made me apply for the position: A generous start-up to conduct my research, freedom to pursue my own research interests but also having the possibility to collaborate with neighboring labs, limited teaching responsibility, yet able to get sufficient teaching experience. And finally coming to a place where I could have a better work-life balance”. 

Professional hiring process

From sending the application a long process of evaluation, site visits, and interviews took
place before finally receiving the job offer. Especially Thomas Kim remembers the months of waiting before knowing whether he was “in” or “out”:

Thomas Kim: “I believe that there was a 3-4 months waiting period after the initial submission of documents (CVs, research proposal, etc.). I also remember at one point getting an email that my documents were reviewed but I wasn’t sure what those meant at that time. After the first zoom-interview, the whole process with the full interview, meeting other Group and Team Leaders on-site visits and the full interview went very efficiently. And the job offer came very soon after my onsite visit.”

Chao Sun had a similar experience:

Chao Sun: “I thought it was very efficient. I went through the same process at other European universities, and I did not experience the same level of professionalism as I did at DANDRITE. That also added to my positive impression of the institution and the way things were handled”.

Aarhus is a wonderful city to live in

For both, it was their first time coming to Denmark and Aarhus. So far, the meeting with the city, the university, and the culture has been considerably positive:

Thomas Kim: “Aarhus is a beautiful and affordable city, and being close to the ocean is truly a blessing to me, having a passion for fishing. Aarhus University conducts a high quality of research, and in my opinion, that should be more known than it already is”.

For Chao Sun the meeting offered both a high level of convenience and has also required a dose of patience:

Chao Sun:Aarhus is a great city with rich culture and social events, good food, and beautiful nature. The level of administrative support at DANDRITE is impressive and extremely valuable. However, I am still trying to adjust to the wait time for different services, for example when ordering goods”.

The great idea – and a bit of luck

They are looking forward to meeting the two new Group Leaders starting in 2024, and have the following advice for the young researchers who are considering applying for one of the positions:

Chao Sun: “I think it is important to bring a bright idea that will continue to be interesting at least for the next decade, and the credentials that allow you to test the idea.
Finally, I would strongly recommend the applicants come to visit Aarhus and meet the GLs here. It just gives a much more accurate impression to hear how others’ journey has been”.  

Thomas Kim also points out the ability to bring a new – and preferably innovative – idea to the table as the key to getting through the eye of the needle:

Thomas Kim: “I thought it to be a bit of huge luck to be offered the position of Group Leader, but I also think it was because I had a unique and partly quirky research idea. If you want to conduct quality research, are willing to take a risk and at the same time have an enjoyable life, the GL position at DANDRITE would be for you”.