Success will look differently to different postdocs: maybe it’s a research or teaching position in academia, perhaps it’s a staff scientist position in industry or at a government lab, or perhaps it’s something more corporate or policy-driven. It is important to define what is important to you in order to set your goals and plan out a tailored path to help you achieve those goals.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Using an IDP to create your career development plan and track your progress is highly recommended. Taking the time to plan your career path will help you use your postdoctoral training period more efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, completing your IDP will help you to familiarize yourself with career planning tools that are common among academic and non-academic employers.

Individual Development Plan for Postdocs

Postdoc IDP Guidelines Mentor IDP Guidelines

Your IDP will help you to:

  • Identify or refine your long- and short-term career goals;
  • Identify additional skills that you need to have, and resources for improving them;
  • Make and implement a plan for meeting your goals;
  • Initiate regular discussions with your mentor(s) about your career path and performance;
  • Track your accomplishments and progress toward your career goals;
  • Create mentoring and/or training plans when you apply for external funding.

Discussing your IDP with your mentor should be part of your annual review process, in which you seek constructive feedback on your performance in the prior year and create a plan of action for the upcoming year.

The IDP template offered by OPA includes guidelines on creating an IDP, either through the provided template or through another resource, such as MyIDP.

Career Exploration

During your postdoctoral training, you have the opportunity to explore different career options if you so choose. Postdocs end up in numerous positions including: tenure-track research, non-tenure-track research, a faculty position at a liberal arts school, teaching at a community college, research administration, patent law, industry or nonprofit research, science policy, scientific communication or writing, consulting, and research or project management.

Many online and in-person resources are available to help you explore career paths, including consultations with Alaina Nickerson in Career Services.