Workshop FAQ


Workshop: Obtaining your PhD is likely the most difficult academic challenge you will ever face, yet few people are truly prepared for how to best navigate their journey and come out prepared for the variety of jobs available to them. This interactive workshop helps identify the most critical elements needed for a successful PhD regardless of your particular field of study, where success is defined as “obtaining a PhD and finding a job”. We will discuss the timeline of a PhD and the critical strategies for success, including how to make the most of your supervisory team and how to tackle writing. We will present research on the career tracks of recent PhD recipients to give participants a realistic view of the post-PhD job market. We will discuss transferable skills that are critical for success on different career tracks and help participants identify paths to developing these skills in graduate school. This workshop is appropriate for students at all levels, in particular students at the beginning of their PhD.

Goals: Students at the start of their PhD rarely have a strategy for being successful in graduate school while acquiring the marketable skills that would help them in post-PhD employment. Variations in mentoring, advising and networking leads to an uneven playing field for many students. This workshop aims to help the participants navigate the years of the PhD program successfully by providing practical and actionable advice that students can adapt to their own careers. We will provide factual information on the career prospects based on data from recent PhD recipients which will help dispel myths and fears. Furthermore, frank discussion of the skills valued in different career tracks will allow students to plan for their post-PhD success rather than face the job market filled with anxiety.

Session 1: Dr. Kim-Vy Tran will lead the first half of the workshop which will focus on success during the PhD program itself. This portion will include a discussion on mapping a timeline, strategies for success, how to make the most of your supervisory team, how to tackle writing, and identifying warning signs. See Logistics to get direct link to slides.

Session 2: Dr. Ivelina Momcheva will lead the second part of the discussion which will focus on developing skills important for the post-PhD job market. This portion will include a discussion of different career tracks based on the work presented in a recent Decadal White Paper, identifying skills important for different career tracks and discussing strategies to develop these skills.

About the organiZers

Dr. Kim-Vy Tran is currently on the faculty in the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales and also was professor at Texas A&M University and the University of Zürich. She leads multiple observational surveys and chairs the Galaxy Evolution Project in the ASTRO 3D Centre of Excellence. Kim-Vy's research contributions include 110+ refereed publications and giving 190+ talks across the world.

Kim-Vy has supervised 40+ students in research and shepherded 70+ graduate students as a Post-Graduate Coordinator for Progressions at UNSW. Her work as an educator includes traditional classroom lectures as well as an expanding range of professional development workshops for scientists, in particular PhD students and early career researchers. She is devoted to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels and helping people achieve their full potential.

Dr. Ivelina Momcheva is currently a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute where she is the Mission Scientist of the Data Science Mission Office. She received her PhD from University of Arizona and has held postdoctoral appointments at Carnegie Observatories and Yale University. She is a member of the AAS Demographics Committee and a coordinator for the STScI summer internship program. She is passionate about mentoring and career development.


kimvy.tran <at> gmail

ivelina.momcheva <at> gmail

What is Included

To ensure a safe space for constructive dialogue, workshop participants are students or postdoctoral researchers only.

  1. Two separate sessions (each 2.5 hours):

      • Session 1 led by Kim-Vy Tran is geared towards the PhD process and appropriate for all levels, and particularly for 1st & 2nd year graduate students.

      • Session 2 led by Ivelina Momcheva focuses on career tracks and developing professional skills needed for post-PhD, appropriate for all levels including early career postdoctoral researchers (1-2 years post-PhD).

  2. Summary report (anonymized) with recommendations for addressing participants' needs and common issues/challenges.


  • We recommend 6 hours (includes breaks) to run the full workshop. We can accommodate two groups per workshop.

  • Optimal size for each group is 15-20 participants to ensure enough time for break-out activities and discussions. For each workshop, we can run two groups (maximum 40 students).

  • Minimum size to run workshop is 8 participants

  • We will tailor the workshop schedule as needed to accommodate participants. Both of the organizers are based in the continental US.


  • For a 6 hour engagement that includes preparing material specifically for the audience and delivering a summary report with recommendations, each workshop costs $2800 for a maximum of 40 participants.

  • If the expected number of participants is more than 40, we can scale up by running multiple workshops.

  • Depending on size of the engagement, there is flexibility with the options and pricing.