It’s (all) about networking… learn to knock on its door


Very nice weather, in contrast to its norm, welcoming colleagues, open office doors where you can ask questions anytime, work taken seriously, but man they know how to have fun! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was introduced to almost everyone in a social room with a couch and coffee machine, half of the people around table playing cards, while the rest were playing Smash on Nintendo. That’s how you need to steam off the brain for an effective and efficient Ph.D. working day I must say.

These are the first things that come to my mind when reviewing my secondment experience at TU Graz. I was given a calm office where I was able to work flawlessly all day long. The institute is a relatively new building, so it was spacious and bright. I think the architects very much considered conservation of energy, as you don’t need to use lots of muscles to open windows, your figure muscles suffice, they were button-operated.

I enjoyed how they value their time together. This is probably how colleagues could all stay connected. Every day at 10:30 and 3:30, everyone would be up for a coffee, chat and chill. Not to mention that the majority of people would also have lunch together in the kitchen. Maybe going for some group sports once or twice a week? Why not! These small things might seem not very important at first glance, but I believe that is the way to keep the sprit up! How to stay connected.

But of course, it was not only about these, but weekly friendly meetings on Thursdays were also another point to talk about work, science, and institutional-related subjects. I hope I’m not exposing anything but I guess that is the plan to teach everyone one delicate skill: Networking…

The good thing is that the environment is as such that you are automatically encouraged to network. I was not an exception. I made some good connections, some as companion friends, and some as guiding tutors. It was a great pleasure to work with Prof. Hirn. His office door was literally open all the time. I was introduced to Prof. Spirk, whose ideas on natural fibres were so rich that I had the chance to discuss several subjects with him. Pleasurable science. And the fruit of my stay there, besides knowing lots of people, learning to use some lab facilities, was the joint works that we defined to be carried out by KU Leuven and TU Graz.

I would like to express my gratitude to everyone from the Institute of Bioproducts and Paper Technology, TU Graz, for giving me the chance to experience one of my best stays abroad. To learn not to work like a machine, but let the machines work for you.



Ali Khodayari

ESR9 - KU Leuven