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Design Your Life After the PHD: Get Unstuck and Move Forward in the Story of What Comes Next (213)


10, 17, 24, 26 April 2024

Lang EN Workshop language is English

Dr Verity Elston


The design thinking approach is widely used in developing cutting edge technology, spaces and products. It can also be very effective for helping you navigate your next career steps, because it helps us think through the "wicked problem" of life after the PhD.This workshop takes us through three half-days using design thinking to help participants come up with and prototype ideas for their professional future. The format is based on the Designing Your Life approach, created by Bill Burnet and Dave Evans at Stanford University, which provides you with the tools to make decisions, learn more about your career options, and leverage your network of connections and beyond to support you as you test out different plans for your future.

The DYL approach is particularly suitable for those who feel "stuck" and unable to move forward because the next chapter of their professional story is not clear to them. It is thus adapted to doctoral candidates from all disciplinary backgrounds. Throughout, the key themes of autonomy, mastery and purpose will be essential to building individual plans.

Through collaborative and individual reflection, we will move from better understanding what we're good at and what we might be interested in doing, to the activities and environments we'd like to explore, and how we might do that in easy-to-manage, bite-sized pieces. Participants will complete the workshop with a set of objectives and ideas for how to complete them.



Participants will be asked to complete some preliminary reading/viewing ahead of the first workshop session, and transfer work prior to the second and third sessions (each should take around one hour).

In our first session, we will review design thinking, its application to career development, and the importance of autonomy, mastery and purpose. This will set the scene for exploration of our personal and professional strengths, the activities that give us energy, and the wild ideas to help us think about what we might do.

In the second and third sessions, we will work on our ideas in order to start thinking about how to test them out, see what might fit, and the tools and resources that we can put to work in order to help us decide the best way forward. We will conclude the workshop together with a reflection on making choices, especially the harder ones.

Each participant will then have the opportunity for a 30 minute private consultation with Verity Elston, after they complete the workshop.

We will use individual and group activities inspired by the design thinking process. Be ready to share safely, to collaborate radically, and to think creatively!

The workshop is based on the same principles as "Design Thinking for Research" and participants who attend both will have the opportunity to explore and share the use of design thinking in multiple avenues of work and life.




University of Lausanne



  • Wednesday 10th April, at the University of Lausanne (from 9 am till 1 pm) ;
  • Wednesday 17th April, at the University of Lausanne (from 9 am till 1 pm) ;
  • Wednesday 24th April, at the University of Lausanne (from 9 am till 1 pm) ;

The private consultations will take place on Friday 26th April. The schedule for consultations will be defined with the trainer.




Director of Portfolio Formation Sàrl and Co-Director of the University of Lausanne Graduate Campus, Dr Verity Elston was previously director of the CUSO Transversal Programme and Deputy to the Dean of the EPFL Doctoral School. She has broad professional experience in the private and public sectors in several countries, including in middle- and high-level recruitment. She holds a doctorate in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago, the FSEA certificate in adult education, the ACC certificate in integral coaching and is a certified TRIMA practitioner. She conducts ongoing qualitative and quantitative research and analysis on the career paths of doctorate holders in Switzerland and in Europe.




Participants are eligible for reimbursement of incurred travel expenses by train between the city of their university and the location of the workshop (half-fare card, 2nd class).



Délai d'inscription 03.04.2024
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