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Individual Development Plans (IDP)

Individual Development Plan

Postdocs and their mentors are encouraged to create and maintain an Individual Development Plan (IDP).  An IDP functions as a road map that identifies both professional development needs and career objectives.  It also serves as a tool to facilitate communication between mentee and mentor, and it can be a useful component of a broader mentoring program.  Writing an IDP involves:

  • Reflecting on one’s progress during the past year
  • Assessing strengths and weaknesses
  • Setting goals for the upcoming year
  • Carefully considering long-term career interests 

Outline of the IDP Process:

The development, implementation, and revision of the IDP require a series of steps to be conducted by the mentee, followed by discussion with his/her mentor.  These steps call for an interactive effort; ideally, both mentee and mentor will fully participate in the process.

Step 1

Development: Conduct an assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, and skills.  State your career goals and write your annual IDP.

Step 2

Implementation: Schedule an appointment with your mentor to discuss your skills assessment and IDP.  Implement the steps in your annual IDP to the best of your ability.

Step 3

Revision: Periodically review progress with your mentor.  Rewrite your IDP annually.  Modify your career objectives as necessary.


IDP Samples and Resources

Online Tools:

myIDP Interactive web-based toold developed by the AAAS to help facilitate career development and the formation of Individual Development Plans by postdocs, grad students, and their mentors.  

It provides:

  • Exercises to help you examine your skills, interests, and values
  • A list of 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which ones best fit your skills and interests
  • A tool for setting strategic goals for the coming year, with optional reminders to keep you on track
  • Articles and resources to guide you through the process

There is no charge to use this site.

Paper-based Templates and Guides:

Sample 1 Comprehensive: Comprehensive 10 page document that outlines the IDP process and provides specific steps for Postdocs and Mentors (from Penn St. University)

Sample 2 Open-Ended: Open ended 5 page document that allows postdocs to answer questions regarding their current and future goals, training, and plans. (adapted from Vanderbilt University)

Sample 3 Short: 2 page document to indicate goals, objectives, and target dates for completion. (adapted from University of Wisconsin)


Additional Resources:

Career Planning Resources from the National Postdoc Association

Mentoring Plans for Postdoctoral Scholars

National Postdoc Association Core Competencies Checklist