Individual Development Plans (IDPs)

To develop as a successful researcher and professional, you will need to reach beyond the established milestones of your PhD program (exams, advancement to candidacy, dissertation, defense), and accumulate achievements in research, teaching, service, and beyond. You will need to present at conferences, publish your research, build your teaching pedagogy, seek leadership and service opportunities, and perhaps explore entrepreneurship or gain experience in contexts outside of the lab.  Managing all of these domains is far from easy, so you need a strategy to identify and pursue the achievements and skills you’ll need to accumulate. You need a plan. You need an IDP. An IDP is an Individual Development Plan– a key professional development tool used within both academia and industry, to establish priorities, set goals, and track progress. You can create an IPD to guide you in self-assessment, exploration, goal setting, implementation, recording milestones, and reflection.  By creating and using an IDP,  you can optimize your PhD years by planning experiences that will help you build the competencies and skills you need not only to finish your degree but to keep rising throughout your career.  An IDP is not a static document; you will be revisiting and adjusting yours on a regular basis. You can use an IDP to:

  • Establish your short and long term goals
  • Map your goals to a timeline of milestones
  • Stay on track with your research, paper, and grant writing
  • Identify new areas where you would like to develop skills or gain experience
  • Explore your career options and create a professional development strategy
  • Prepare for conversations with your advisor/mentors about your professional development and career plan

Creating an IDP can benefit you in many ways, helping you to:

  • Navigate challenging circumstances & competitive environments
  • Catalyze your progress and improve your research productivity
  • Reinforce your confidence and support your well-being and mental health

The individual development plan (IDP) is now viewed as a key tool for graduate students and for postdocs. Both NSF and NIH have embraced the IDP or similar tool as a key component for enhancing STEM graduate and postdoctoral programs, requiring IDPs for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers on funded programs. Resources for Developing IDPs:

Creating and using an IDP is an iterative process in which feedback is enormously helpful. If you would like to discuss your IDP with an advisor, schedule an appointment.