Dr. Claartje van Sijl
philosophical career counselor & trainer
Academia is a great but harsh place
I love the passion, integrity and curiosity with which researchers strive for knowledge and excellence in the face of failure, criticism, uncertainty. I also look behind the scenes, at the personal struggles.
I see how long-term career uncertainty confines academics and makes them doubt their worth. How they surrender their life’s happiness to the critical judgement of a supervisor, peer reviewer or grant committee. How the pressure to perform inadvertently disconnects them from the meaning of their work. These personal tragedies hurt. They make me sad. And angry: we cannot afford to waste so much talent.
That is why I assist academics with questions of purpose, direction, balance and confidence in life and career. Since I received my PhD in philosophy I have helped hundreds of researchers to connect reason with their heart’s wisdom. To move forward harmoniously. The people I work with are smart and capable, but they got stuck. A good talk with a friend didn’t resolve the issue. Working with me they figure out what is really important to them. They gain confidence when they discover who they really are and where they thrive. And they make conscious career choices based on their authentic mission in life. That can mean to continue in academia or to proceed elsewhere. I am thrilled when I see them contribute their best possible self to science and society, to their profession and private life.
Claartje’s knowledge of and personal experience with the academic environment, and with doing a PhD in particular, absolutely adds value. I first came to her with a lot of vague questions about my career. Wether or not to continue in science? What is the right choice?
Because of her open, inviting and friendly attitude I found space to think and associate freely. Claartje offered me a clear mirror and asked tingling questions that really stimulated me to think. Without directing she encouraged me to get insight in my real question. I enjoyed her simple, concrete exercises, which were very effective. Now I can say with confidence and calm: this is who I am, this is what I can do. And this I am not, (yet) and this I cannot (yet) do, and that is okay.
Claartje helped me through a big transitional time in my academic career. She helped me realize the big picture, that I needed to think about my career more broadly than simply as a topic of study. At first this made me question my career choices even more, but as time went on I was able to see things in a more comprehensive way. After the Postdoc Career Intervention I had a much better understanding of my own interests, what I need to do to be happy with my work, and how to do it in a more effective manner.
After a bad postdoc experience, I was unhappy to be back in the Netherlands and I was now literally stuck in a job which gave me no fulfillment. I wanted to work in research again, become a mentor or group leader, and ideally in a country in which I am living close to the city, but more importantly, up-close with nature. I was searching for scientific jobs, but I was not successful to find such a role.
Claartje has been a good listener. She provided a lot of guidance, not only professionally or work-related but much more. She was also not afraid to critique my (negative) behaviour and thinking at times. She taught me how to change my thinking (and therefore situation) around by changing my own perspectives.
With Claartje’s help I became more confident. I was able to narrow down what was really important for me. New possibilities started to arise. Before the end of Claartje’s coaching I accepted a job as senior research fellow. I will also live abroad again in the very near future. All in all, I am very grateful for her help!
Read more about me
You can read more about my personal journey from academic philosopher to independent counselor in my guest blog over at The Scholarpreneur: One Academic’s Journey from Philosophy Phd to Scholarpreneur.
I also talk openly about my career choices, and let you peek behind the scenes in this interview series (1, 2, 3, 4) by dr. Helen de Cruz with philosophy PhD holders who work outside academia (originally published at the NewAPPS blog).
And you can hear me in a podcast interview about philosophical counseling and entrepreneurship by Scholarpreneur founder Scott Rank.
My LinkedIn profile contains my working experience and a list of my publications. I wrote my PhD thesis on Stoic philosophy and the exegesis of myth (defended at Utrecht University in 2010). My scholarly work is listed at academia.edu.
On my personal Facebook page I post about creativity, thoughtfulness, and other things that inspire me as a mother and a philosophically oriented world citizen.
I needed to order my thoughts about my research career, especially after I obtained my NWO Vidi grant. Claartje has a calm personality and communicates in an open and non-directive way. Her concrete tips were very helpful.
I felt lost and needed someone who could help me find my way again. Helpful tools that Claartje’s coaching gave me to not get lost that badly include that I can now listen to myself and acknowledge how I feel. Imagine standing at a certain level. If something bad happens, you can let it get to you and take you down, or you can acknowledge it and keep your level. Sad or negative thoughts about stuff that happens at work don’t need to get me down anymore.
Certification & registration
— Licensed Zacht Werken coach (Working Soft).
— Certified Logic Based Therapy consultant (Institute for Critical Thinking)
— CRKBO registered as independent lecturer
— connected to the Gifted Adults Foundation
Kamer van Koophandel (chamber of commerce) nr. 53709365
You can download my general terms & conditions here.