Career Development Programs and Events

OPA is dedicated to the professional and career development of our Postdoctoral Trainees. OPA is in the process of building a highly structured postdoctoral career and professional development curriculum that will be fully implemented by the 2018-2019 academic year. The curriculum will consist of a variety of short courses, seminar series, intensive workshops, and individualized support. The programming will be consistently run annually so that postdocs can build these programs into their training plans while at Columbia University. In addition to the more structured curriculum, OPA also organizes stand-alone workshops and events throughout each year.

Announcements about all upcoming OPA organized programming are sent to Postdocs on our email mailing list each Tuesday in our 'Weekly Digest'. Programs are advertised several weeks in advance to provide ample time to register. Many of these events and programs are also posted on the OPA events calendar.

The structured postdoctoral training program that OPA has been building over the past year focuses on broad areas that align with four of the six core competencies identified by the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) as being critical for successful postdoctoral training. The Columbia postdoctoral training program focuses on: professionalism, leadership and management, communication, career management, and responsible conduct of research. Two of the six (NPA) core competencies, discipline-specific conceptual knowledge and research skill development, are largely areas that postdocs should receive training on through their PI, mentor, or on their own, and are not widely encompassed in the OPA postdoctoral training program. The OPA structured postdoctoral training program, once fully implemented, will consist of multiple distinct series and minicourses that, in totality, will enable postdocs to achieve the following postdoctoral training program goals:

  • recognize the significance of independent career management
  • actively participate in the postdoctoral training program for the duration of training
  • gain insights into a variety of career options available and engage in training and education activities necessary to gain employment in a preferred career track
  • receive professional and career development necessary for employment in a wide-range of sectors
  • adhere to professional and ethical codes of conduct during training at Columbia
  • hone leadership, management, and communication skills necessary for PhD level positions across a variety of career sectors
  • transition from training to independence


The components of the postdoctoral training program will entail:

This fundamental program covers topics such as career management, career exploration, career path selection, networking, goal setting and developing an individual development plan. It is run annually each Fall. Visit the IDP Program page for more information. 

OPA organizes an annual Postdoc Research Symposium for the purpose of creating an opportunity for postdocs to present their research, learn about the research that other postdocs are carrying out, and to learn about career opportunities. See the Postdoc Research Symposium page for more information.

This annual series exposes trainees to a variety of career opportunities that exist for doctoral level researchers. This program is run annually in the winter and spring. Please see the IDP program website listed above for information on the career panels that were run in 2014-2016.

This minicourse introduces the different modes by which students learn, effective teaching strategies to promote transformative learning, techniques to develop a course and manage a classroom and provides participants the opportunity to practice these techniques. This minicourse takes place every spring. Please see the course website for information on the the structure of the course.

This minicourse covers topics such as the faculty application and interviewing process, negotiating a start-up package, staffing a research group, faculty funding and publication strategies, project management, team leadership and considerations of university structures and the roles faculty play within a university. This minicourse takes place each summer. Please see the course website for information on the structure of the course.

These six workshops focus on creating a targeted resume, a professional CV, drafting a persuasive cover letter, interviewing effectively, strategically networking, and managing one's career. Individual workshops from this series will be held monthly, with each workshop being held 1-3 times per year. 

This series will cover topics such as fellowship opportunities for early stage postdocs, funding opportunities for mid- and late-stage postdocs, and best practices in grant writing. This series will commence fully in Fall 2016. Currently stand-alone seminars have been provided on these topics each Fall.

This minicourse will cover topics such as professionalism in the academic and non-academic workplace, data management strategies, data manipulation, conflict of interests, research misconduct, mentorship, authorship and intellectual property. This minicourse will be launched in Fall 2016. Many topics of this minicourse were covered in a monthly postdoc series, and more information about this series can be found here:

How to Conduct Research that Gets Published and Noticed

This minicourse will cover topics such as interpersonal communication, public speaking, research presentations, communicating research to a lay audience, strategies for writing an effective research manuscript, negotiation, and conflict resolution. This course will be fully launched in Spring of 2017, however a communication series which will cover some of these topics will occur in Spring 2016.

This minicourse will cover topics such as patenting innovative research, product commercialization, considerations for launching a research start-up company, business funding strategies, as well as business principles in science and research. This course will be launched during the 2017-2018 academic year.

This minicourse will cover topics such as types of industries and positions, team-based working environments, professionalism in the industry workplace, basic business principles, industry job searches and interviewing, and strategic networking. This course will be launched in 2018. In the meantime, we will contine to hold the day long 'SciPhD: Preparing for an Industry Career' workshop each summer.

This minicourse will cover topics such developing leadership strengths, strategic planning, managing a team, managing a budget, conflict resolution, and project and time management. This course will be launched in 2018. In the meantime, many of these topics are covered either through stand-alone workshops or in sessions within either the communications series or the Transitioning the research independence course.

Beyond the courses, workshops, and series, OPA also organizes a number of networking and employer events throughout the year. These include large scale networking events with postdoc alumni twice a year (focus is on non-academic careers), employer on-campus recruitment/info sessions, as well as employer site visits. OPA also advertises internship and employment opportunities throughout the year.   


Interested parties can also view our programming for Fall 2015Winter 2016, and Spring 2016, or can view the programming we have organized last year here:

List of Summer 2014-Spring 2015 OPA programming  

There are a large number of events and programs that occur throughout the year that are not organized by OPA, but would be of interest to postdocs. We organize these events into the 'Weekly Listing of Events" email, sent out to postdocs on our email list every Thursday. Click to see events and resources relevant to postdocs from other offices at Columbia as well as external resources.