What Is It?
The Association Bernard Gregory (ABG) was founded in 1980 to help recently qualified PhDs find employment in nonacademic institutions and to promote the value of training through research among commercial enterprises. It is named after the particle physicist Bernard Gregory, former director-general of both CERN and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), who set up the working group on career opportunities for young scientists which became ABG just before his death in 1977.
What does it do?
ABG has a number of practical initiatives aimed at helping PhDs present their training to employers as effectively as possible. The most relevant of these for Next Wave readers are:
Correspondents , a network of people, often in careers services in universities and research organisations, who are available as your local contact with ABG. They aim to 'add value' to ABG's services, by talking through your career and job-hunting options. It is essential that you contact an ABG correspondent if you wish to join its CV database (see below). The network is most extensive in France (click on the relevant region on the map to find your nearest), but there are also correspondents in Belgium, the UK, Ireland, and Japan. ABG hopes to extend its network to other countries in the future.
Doctoriales are 5-day seminars for PhD researchers run on a regional basis throughout France. Each programme allows PhDs to practise working in a team, whilst learning about the skills required in industry and how to market themselves to commercial employers. Visits to local companies are also included.
The New Chapter of the Thesis is ABG's most recent project, in collaboration with a number of doctoral schools. The idea is to encourage PhD students to prepare themselves for life 'post-PhD,' in particular by helping them to review the skills and professional know-how they have developed while carrying out research. Each student who participates in the project works with a mentor who helps them to reflect on issues such as placing their research in a wider context and the competencies they have developed in the course of their project. The 'chapter' itself is relatively short--no more than 5 pages.
What does the Web site have to offer me?
From PhD to Employment, available in both French and English, is a survey conducted by ABG in collaboration with Fedora (the European Forum for Academic Guidance) and the Employment Service of the Denis Diderot University (Paris 7). For each country of the EU (except Luxembourg), it gathers information relevant for job-hunting PhDs. This includes sources of information on the job market, a listing of the major public sector and national research organisations, information about the different types of positions available in universities and the application procedures, and advice about applying for jobs in the private sector such as the type of CV expected and the format of a typical interview. The information provided is quite basic, but if you're keen to find work in another country with which you're relatively unfamiliar, it is a great starting point.
Abg-jobs (in French or English) provides a number of ways for job seekers to access offers of employment. First of all, there is a database of available posts, accessible as separate lists for jobs in the commercial sector, and jobs in academia, either in France or the rest of the world. It's not surprising that the majority of positions offered are in France or in French-speaking parts of the world, but ABG is busy expanding its network, and you can expect the number of offers from other countries to grow.
(Very clean, and all the different parts of the site hang together very nicely.)
Ease of Navigation
(Provided you speak at least a little French. Some of the indices and navigation are in French only.)
Quality of Information
(Outstanding--no more to be said!)
In addition, job seekers can register their CV with the ABG. The CVs are then placed in a database which can be searched by potential employers. ABG boasts that 75% of the CVs lodged with it have been ordered by recruiters at least once. In order to register your CV for this service you have to make contact with one of the correspondents.
In addition, the Abg-jobs site provides information about recruitment competitions to fill academic and other public research posts, international volunteering opportunities, and PhD thesis topics looking for would-be PhD students.
Jeunes Docteurs is the section of the ABG site which gathers information of interest to PhD students. The ' Note Book' is in many ways similar to Next Wave's own European Science Bytes in that it posts notices of funding and training opportunities and events relevant to young researchers. Like much of ABG's Web site, all these announcements are published in both French and English.
Also on the roam here is the Inquisitive Mouse who searches the net for Web sites of interest to the career-minded PhD. A thematic index helps find young researchers associations, information about doctoral and postdoctoral funding and prizes, sites for entrepreneurial researchers, sources of information about mobility, and much more. The most recent entries are posted in English as well as French.
Formation par la Recherche is ABG's magazine, published quarterly. It covers ABG's own activities plus news and information of interest to PhDs and employers regarding the value of research training. It comes out in print, but the complete issues are also available online, either in html or pdf format. Formation par la Recherche is only available in French.
As mentioned previously the ABG is expanding its activities throughout Europe. Already an incredibly valuable site for PhDs based in France and other French-speaking parts of Europe, this is a site whose value for all European PhDs is set to keep growing. Check it out, and keep checking back!