Every trainee in the biomedical sciences 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: tool for pre-qual and post-qual doctoral students
The IDP process enables students to be proactive – making the most of graduate school, staying well, and preparing for the future. To help both our faculty and students, QB3-Berkeley has created IDP templates tailored to students in early stages (pre-qual) and later stages of their doctoral programs. This format of the IDP is entirely optional – a tool that provides structure and encouragement to help students achieve their goals.
|IDP FORM (PDF) |
|IDP FORM (WORD)|
|IDP FORM (PDF)|
|IDP FORM (WORD)
Guidelines/What you will find in the QB3-Berkeley IDP
Each IDP includes two sections. The first contains assessment questions for the trainee. These questions are for self-reflection and organizing thoughts, ideas and ultimately prioritizing what might be discussed with a research advisor or another mentor. Three general categories are addressed in these assessment questions: Goals in Graduate School; Mentoring, Community and Well-being; and Career Planning.
The second part of the IDP provides a framework for setting goals and taking actions in the next year. The purpose of this part is to help shape discussions with your mentors on how to achieve your goals. Faculty and students have reported that reviewing these talking points together facilitates goal setting/planning. Remember, sharing the self-reflection portion of the IDP is optional, but may help your mentor(s) gain insights into your needs. Additionally, if you experience difficulty with the IDP process, consider seeking the support of your program’s graduate advisor.
QB3-Berkeley Graduate and Postdoc Career Development
1. Assessment of Competencies/Skills and SMART goal setting
2. Berkeley Initiatives (expand and strengthen your skills and knowledge, and develop your community)
3. Career Development/Career Fields (learn about 10 career fields in the public, private and non-profit sectors)
1. Graduate Student Professional Development Guide
2. Graduate Student Instructor Teaching & Resource Center
3. Writing Center
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) – resources for graduate students
Career Center – self-assessment resources (values, interests, etc)
NIH’s Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) describes the value of IDPs
myIDP at Science Careers is a well-established online IDP. UCSF created four brief instructional videos (on YouTube) about using myIDP
1. An overview video to introduce the myIDP tool and process: Enhance Your Research Training Experience
2. Find Your Career Fit – Self Assessment using myIDP
3. Explore Science Careers using myIDP
4. Set Goals for Career Success using myIDP
ChemIDP – American Chemical Society’s online IDP (requires free account)
National Postdoc Association (NPA)’s six Core Competencies for postdocs
From Molecular Cell (forum) article, “Yearly Planning Meetings: Individualized Development Plans Aren’t Just More Paperwork” (2015)
Nature article, “Career planning: The next five years” (2015)
Nature Biotechnology article, “Optimizing the utility of the individual development plan for trainees in the biosciences” (2018)
If you are a Postdoc:
QB3-Berkeley resources, including the links above may be helpful to you. Many postdocs utilize the myIDP online, and are encouraged to consider accessing the post-qual IDP FORM (PDF) offered by QB3-Berkeley. Development of a postdoc tailored tool is planned for the future.