BNF - Nationales Qualifizierungsprogramm


BNF as a back door

© Universität Bern

What would be a typical image for BNF (e.g., tool, object, animal)?

A typical image for BNF would be a back door. Thanks to BNF I feel that I entered the job market from a back door with the sign “staff only” on top of it. After many unsuccessful job applications to enter the job market from the main door (replying to job openings), I finally had the chance to start a project work within a pharma company, where I was hired with a permanent position at the end of my BNF experience.

I have first heard of BNF from a former PhD colleague, who graduated a couple of years before me. She told me about the program, about the possibility to do project work and to follow courses to enrich your curriculum and make you more marketable for companies. I immediately felt this was a great initiative for us, recent PhD graduates, who are extremely skilled but with too little experience outside academia. Furthermore, as the BNF is a national program, I felt it was a good chance for me to network in a different city, from where I have lived during my studies.

Another unique feature of BNF is that you can organize a project work with almost any company or institution. There were not many existing programs in the area where I lived, so I have contacted five companies to organize a new program, and one answered positively. I have had two interviews with the company and then they gave me green light to start. It was important to know each other through interviews but the pressure was low as I had no competitors!

Although from the BNF side, everything was very well organized to start, I had some difficulties in convincing my unemployment counsellor that this was a good choice, as the program was not very well known to her, and it was not clear how it would benefit my job search. However, with around 70% of jobs not being published online or advertised, I thought that a program that could bring me inside a company could only be of help!

I enjoyed my BNF project very much. Although I was an intern, I was given lots of responsibilities and I have worked closely with different departments. This gave me a great chance to network and being valued. I have also attended a BNF course very related to my project.

Being on BNF also had its challenges: as my duties for the unemployment office did not change, I still had to send 12 applications per month with less time available. However, having arrived at the end of a selection for another company, it gave me the chance to explain my situation with my hosting company, who offered me a position shortly afterwards.

I would strongly recommend the BNF program to those recently graduated, those who wish to change fields and those who move to a new area with a little professional network. This program can give you the chance to enter the job market from a back door!

Former BNF Participant, Biologist, Zurich