Dr Marieke van der Zande

Marieke joined Prosper as a Research Associate at The University of Liverpool, with over five years of postdoctoral experience. Working within the faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Marieke’s research pertains to the field of medical sociology and investigates inequalities in oral healthcare. In her role, she has worked diligently to develop interventions which support patients in overcoming barriers to access dental care.

Marieke’s time with Prosper confirmed her desire to pursue an academic career, and she now has more clarity about how to take the next step when her current contract comes to an end.

Role on starting Prosper cohort

Research Associate, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Liverpool. 

Case study conducted

May 2023. 

The challenge

Marieke’s time with Prosper confirmed her desire to pursue an academic career, and she now has more clarity about how to take the next step when her current contract comes to an end.

“Before Prosper, career development always felt like this massive thing that was too broad to know where to start.

The Prosper journey

Marieke appreciated the structured nature of Prosper’s approach to career development – with its different sections under Reflect, Explore, and Act breaking the otherwise daunting scope of career development down into more manageable, bitesize chunks. This structure resembled the approach Marieke was more used to taking in her research, and broke it all down in such a way that she could target specific areas to work on, with concrete action points.

Initially, she used the ‘Reflect’ resources to identify what she liked about working within a research setting. Marieke is passionate about doing research which makes a difference within communities – especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Marieke then explored her options via looking through job boards, and made use of Prosper’s resources in this area to figure out what skills she would need to develop if she ever wanted to make a switch beyond academia.

“Prosper has made me reflect a lot on what I enjoy doing the most in research.

Marieke also really valued the community feel of being a part of a cohort, and regularly attended group coaching sessions. She realised that many of her fellow postdocs experienced similar issues to her. She learned from her peers how they had gone about taking the next step in their careers, and how they kept track of their own career development – something she’d never really considered before.

Through Prosper’s group sessions and socials, Marieke also came to discover just how many other postdocs shared her interest in ethical and altruistic careers. She and her peers created their own Slack channels dedicated to sharing information and advice about these kinds of roles – an initiative that has continued beyond the confines of Prosper pilot.

“The connections with other postdocs and with the coaching group were so valuable – it makes all the difference.

Next steps

Marieke still has ample time left on her postdoc contract, doing work she enjoys. Her time with Prosper brought welcome clarity on this front – she is now quite certain she wants to continue to pursue a career in academia, and that its academia that can give her what she wants from a career. Many of Prosper’s resources are just as useful and relevant to pursuing an academic career as one beyond, and Marieke will continue to draw on what she learned wherever her future takes her.

“My next steps will be applying for smaller grants, to then build up to a fellowship application - either that or applying for lectureships.

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