Individual career coaching


A PhD degree opens up a wide range of avenues for challenging and exciting job opportunities. Pursuing a career in academia is only one of the options. In a climate of innovation and growth, the qualities of young researchers are an excellent match to the needs of the labour market. Sometimes it is difficult, however, to find the right match on your own.

In order to support PhD students and postdocs in their career development, individual career coaching is offered - through the doctoral schools, but by external coaches. This is a pilot project with 12 available spots.

There are four organisations you can choose from (depicted below, in alphabetical order). All providers offer coaching in both English and Dutch, and they all offer coaching online. Please do NOT contact the coaches directly, but follow the procedure as described at the bottom of the page.

(1) Braingain


Dr Lucia Smit is sociologist, HR consultant and executive coach on career and leadership development for professionals. She often gives lectures on career development of PhDs and postdocs. In 2010, she defended her PhD dissertation on the benefits of a PhD for a career outside of academia. In 2013, she started her own business. In Braingain she coaches and trains experts and scientists in becoming impactful leaders in industry and innovation.

For Lucia, one of the biggest challenges (post)doctoral researchers face is:

  1. to know what career options would fit with their career interests and background
    Lucia can help in this because she analyzed more than 10.000 career paths of PhDs worldwide. Having a background in Economics and Business Lucia knows the labor market and its sectors and required competences very well.

  2. to develop a well-defined motivation for jobs outside of academia
    Lucia helps in this by:
    • Giving you tests to explore your career interests and values
    • Translating these into career options and an elevator pitch
    • Encouraging you in planning informational interviews to gain more insight in your career options
    • Helping you to build out a consistent professional identity and to enlarge your network
    • Raising your self awareness on acquired skills and personality traits
    • Supporting you in writing cover letters and CV’s and preparing for job interviews. Having worked for many clients in different working contexts (business, corporates, industry, governmental and academia) she knows how the set the appropriate tone.

(2) Make me fly!


Make me Fly! is known for its no-nonsense yet innovative approach to career questions that are never standard. For many years we apply positive psychology and the Solutions Focus methodology to working with (former) academics, using our experience in Human Resources and recruitment in the scientific sector and beyond.

Your questions could include:

  • Does research really suit me? Why do I question my abilities so often? Is this my ‘greatest place to work’?
  • Can I combine a career in research with raising a family? Do I want to pursue an academic career?
  • What are my skills and career goals? What will I do after this contract? If not in academia, how can I use my skills and experience to go for something else? What is that ‘something else‘ and how do I get it?
  • How do I translate my academic experience into a valuable profile in the world outside academia to get hired for a job that I really want?
  • How to deal with feelings of stress, overwhelm, solitude,… that take away the fun in my work? What do I need to feel happy and satisfied with the work that I do and how can I influence this?
  • Maybe you feel burned out or depressed, making you doubt if this is your place to be and if you’ve got what it takes.
  • Can my academic work help me to found my own company? How? What? Where to start?
  • Or any other struggle that keeps you from enjoying what you do.

Your result after usually 4 hours of coaching:

  • You know where you want to go and how to find and select opportunities that you feel passionate about. You’ll also know what to stay away from;
  • You know how to match your skillset and experience to the desired profile and how to represent your professional image in the outside world (your CV, your LinkedIn profile, how to deal with interviews,…);
  • You have a clear picture of a working environment that allows you to thrive and how to detect that from the first instance with potential employers;
  • You may even know what your entrepreneurial path could look like;
  • You’ll know what steps to take, at your pace, in the right order, matching your personality.

Our coaches:

Both Els Deboutte and Rilla Lysens have a sound experience in both the academic and other sectors as coach and trainer.

(3) My future works


A unique approach through appreciative inquiry, positive psychology & self-determination.

We help you to discover who you really are and what your needs are as a human being. Based on on an extensive exploration of your authentic self, we support you to develop your full potential.

Our method focuses on finding out what works for you, rather than judging and focusing on obstacles. In-depth exploration reveals your preferences, what energizes you and what context you need to flourish.

We will help you to make your very own “wheel of choice”. We will achieve this through a challenging dialogue between you and your coach. Computer tests have less place in our approach. The wheel of choice will provide insight in:

  • your values, strengths and sources of energy
  • your dreams and ambitions
  • the areas of growth and development
  • the environments with a good fit with who you are

With this overview, you and your coach will explore your short and medium term options and goals:

  • what works for you and what doesn’t?
  • how can you change your job in order to enhance job satisfaction and improve your energy levels?
  • what do you need to address changes to ensure a better fit?
  • how can you manage your professional duties and ambitions as integral part of your life?

All of this will result in your personal development plan, your guide to sustainable professional choices!

Our coaches:

Franciska Devloo - Career Coach KU Leuven, Stress Release (personal website)
Marc Bähner - ICF Certified Coach, based in Genk (personal website)
Suzy Scheers - guided UAntwerp staff members, Stress Coach (personal website)
Rik De Greef - PhD, with large business experience (LinkedIn)
Rebekka Schotte - Lecturer UCLL, systemic counselor (personal website)
Hendrik Geleyte - Experience with UCL/KU Leuven/VUB/ULB/Eur. institutions (personal website)
Tom Koninckx - Integral Master Coach, MIT trained (personal website)
Evelyne Schöller - Master Practitioner NLP & Senior Practitioner coach EMCC (personal website

(4) Passion for Work


As an experienced career center, we work with the E = m C² formula. E stands for energy, enthusiasm, engagement, empowerment and employability. What grade do you give yourself for this from 1 to 10? How can we increase this? By going deeper into your m = motivation, linked to your intrinsic motivation, as well as your c = competences. Why c²? We look for the competencies in which you are already an expert, that you can do well, as well as competencies that you would like to develop. During our coaching sessions we use tools such as success stories, energy matrix, core quadrants from Ofman, personality test via UQ tools, etc. always in consultation with you. The outcome is your career passport!

Our mission is to make working Flanders happier and more resilient.

We start with:

  1. your identity:
    • who am I?
    • what is important in my work?
    • what do I like to do?
    • what would I like to develop?
    • which jobs suit me?

  2. your behavior/communication:
    • how do I express my identity?
    • how will I brand myself?
    Daring to show yourself as you really are takes courage! Be open and authentic. An elephant should not try to present itself as a zebra or vice versa.

  3. your image:
    • how does the outside world see me?
    You will position yourself clearly, consistently and distinctively. You become master of your own life and career. Call it "personal leadership."

For more than 14 years, we have been guiding thousands of people towards greater happiness at work!

Our coaches:

Luc Dekeyser (LinkedIn)
Sofie Vanham (LinkedIn)
Chris van den Bergh (LinkedIn)
Marijke Jonckers (LinkedIn)


Who can apply?

  • PhD students and postdocs, who ...
    • have been working at Hasselt University for at least one year, and
    • have already participated in at least one career event or workshop

How to apply?

  • Send an email to, entitled 'application career coaching'. Please include the following elements:
    • motivation statement: your reasons for wanting a career coach and the career questions you are struggling with
    • the provider of your choice, as well as the specific coach you would like to work with (if applicable)
    • the number of years of working experience you have, including your PhD (in order to assess whether you are eligible for 'loopbaancheques')
    • previous career events or workshops you participated in
    • your faculty and the year in which you obtained or plan to obtain your PhD

  • You may apply from February 22, 2021 onwards. There is no deadline, but given the fact that all eligible applications will be considered as soon as they come in, it may be best to apply as soon as possible.

Further procedure?

  • The doctoral school team assesses whether the application is eligible. If yes, the researcher is brought into contact with the organisation of their choice.
  • A (free) introductory interview is set up, based on which both parties can decide whether or not they want to start a coaching trajectory together.
  • Coaching trajectory:
    • All agreements are made in direct correspondence between the coach and the coachee.
    • The costs for maximum 4 hours of coaching are borne by the doctoral schools*.
    • If more coaching is needed, this is paid for by the researcher. The costs for this should be clear from the start, and the researcher may decide independently whether they need/wish to continue the coaching or not.
  • After closing the trajectory, you will be asked to complete a brief evaluation survey.

* If you are eligible for 'loopbaancheques', you will be expected to apply for those and the doctoral schools will reimburse the amount spent. (In first instance one cheque; if the need for a second cheque - and hence extra coaching - can be argued, the second cheque may be reimbursed as well.)