Every trainee in the biosciences should consider which tools will help them define and achieve their career goals. Just like the scientific research process – which is undertaken with established methods and equipment – career planning is aided by instruments that help support, plan, and track career development and learning objectives. An annual IDP is one component of a broader professional development strategy and mentoring program. There is no “right” format for an IDP. However, some common characteristics of IDPs include:

  • incorporating self-assessment, and serving as a roadmap towards short-term and long-term objectives;
  • establishing specific, clear steps towards developing relevant skills, knowledge, or experience, generally with an articulated timeline;
  • documenting progress;
  • providing a basis for discussion between trainees and mentors, producing a dynamic, “living” document to be modified at different junctures during a trainee’s program.

QB3-Berkeley’s IDPs: Tools for doctoral students and postdocs

The IDP process enables students and postdocs to be proactive – making the most of their training, staying well, and preparing for satisfying careers. It can be an important tool for promoting equity.  To help both our faculty and trainees, QB3-Berkeley has created IDP templates tailored to students in early stages (pre-qual) and later stages (post-qual) of their doctoral programs, as well as for postdocs. This format of the IDP is entirely optional – a tool that provides structure and encouragement to help trainees achieve their goals.