IDP Program 2019-2020

The Columbia University Individual Development Plan (IDP) program is designed to help participants recognize the importance of managing one’s own career, develop strategies to help with career management, and comprehend the purpose and value of an IDP. Program participants will become familiar with a variety of career options, and learn which skills and experiences are necessary to pursues these career paths. Through involvement in the IDP series and workshops, participants will also be able to develop skills relevant to a variety of careers.

Program participants will learn to:

  • Identify potential career options
  • Devise strategies for managing their careers
  • Independently complete an IDP through the myIDP or ImaginePhD online tool
  • Utilize their IDP to share short and long term career development plans with their mentors
  • Develop beneficial skills for a variety of career paths
  • Engage in networking opportunities to learn more about numerous career paths

 

**PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to attend each session to participate in this program. Each session is open to all postdocs. If you are interested in a certificate of completion, please make sure to complete the IDP submission form, attend at least one IDP seminar or workshop, and complete the IDP evaluation.

Your IDP

To begin developing your IDP, please visit myIDP (for STEM postdocs and PhDs) or ImaginePhD (for Social Sciences and Humanities postdocs and PhDs) to complete a free registration. Upon registration, you will be able to complete your IDP following the instructions provided.

If you would like to participate in the IDP program to receive a certificate of completion, please make sure to complete the following steps. Note: It is not required to do this in order to attend the workshops affiliated with the IDP program.

  1. Once you have developed your IDP, please print or save a copy of the completed IDP. (The Print option in the Google Chrome browser will allow you to save your IDP as a PDF.
  2. Using information from your completed IDP, answer the IDP submission form. This form will be submitted to OPA and will not be shared with your faculty mentor (unless you specifically request this).
  3. Attend at least one IDP seminar or workshop.
  4. Following completion of involvement in the IDP program, please complete an IDP program evaluation. (Evaluation is strictly anonymous and will be used to assist OPA in understanding the effectiveness of the IDP program and the career and professional needs of the graduate student and postdoctoral researchers at Columbia University).

Once you have completed and submitted your IDP, we request that you complete an evaluation of the IDP program. The evaluation is strictly anonymous and will be used to assist OPA in understanding the effectiveness of the IDP program and the career and professional needs of the postdoctoral researchers at Columbia University.

2018 IDP Program Summary

The following text may be used in NIH grant progress reports for trainees participating in the 2018 Columbia University IDP program:

The Columbia University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the School of Nursing and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences co-sponsor an annual program to assist NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with the implementation of Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

The 2018 program commenced with a Managing Your Career: Introduction to IDP, followed by a Leadership Series, a Business Concepts for Scientists course, a Lab Dynamics: Essential Skills for Scientists, Managers, and Leaders workshop and three career panels:

  • October 2018: Leadership Series. This series was designed to help postdocs build skills relevant for a leadership role, whether that be in industry, academia, or another area! Topics covered in this series included understanding your own personality preferences through the MBTI, identifying and working with various interpersonal styles, getting results through effective delegation, how to have difficult conversations and deliver effective feedback, and how to persuade others.
  • November 2018: Business Concepts for Scientists: This course, developed by UCSF, iBiology, and Washington University, is designed to enhance PhD scientists’ understanding of foundational business concepts. This business coursework is unique because it is designed to prepare scientists for career transitions into both academic and non-academic settings. The course topics include business strategy, business development, strategic collaborations, strategy toolkits, and finance.
  • January 2019: Lab Dynamics: Essential Skills for Scientists, Managers, and Leaders. Dr. Carl Cohen from Science Management Associates offered his Lab Dynamics: Essential Skills for Scientists, Managers, and Leaders workshop as part of the IDP series. This workshop focused on developing critical skill sets scientists interested in positions in academia or industry. This full day workshop was comprised of two sessions: Difficult Conversations in the Research Workplace: Fundamentals of Negotiation and Leading Scientific Teams and Project Meetings
     

Following the IDP seminar series, a monthly career panel and networking reception will allow trainees to learn about a variety of career opportunities both within and beyond academia. Postdoctoral researchers may also join peer mentoring groups to discuss their IDPs, career goals, and career exploration activities, and to receive support and feedback from their peers.

2017 IDP Program Summary

The following text may be used in NIH grant progress reports for trainees participating in the 2017 Columbia University IDP program:

The Columbia University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the School of Nursing and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences co-sponsor an annual program to assist NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with the implementation of Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

The 2017 program commenced with a webinar, followed by a day-long workshop on IDPs, and four career panels:

  • September 2017: Importance of career management, how to conduct a self-assessment, the significance of an IDP, best practices for developing an IDP, goal setting, and how to discuss an IDP with a mentor (led by Rory Flinn, Director of Graduate Student Professional Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

  • October 2017: Defining differences between academic science and the "Business of Science", exploring career opportunities; identifying industry values and requirements, building and marketing your personal brand, experiencing advanced communications, salary negotiation, networking, interview preparation, faculty mentor career discussions (led by SciPhD)

Program participants provide elements of their IDPs to their Graduate School or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to ensure compliance, and are strongly encouraged to share portions of their IDPs with their faculty mentors.

Following the IDP seminar series, a monthly career panel and networking reception will allow trainees to learn about a variety of career opportunities both within and beyond academia. Postdoctoral researchers may also join peer mentoring groups to discuss their IDPs, career goals, and career exploration activities, and to receive support and feedback from their peers.

2016 IDP Program Summary

The following text may be used in NIH grant progress reports for trainees participating in the 2016 Columbia University IDP program:

The Columbia University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences co-sponsor an annual program to assist NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with the implementation of Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

The 2016 program commenced with a three-part seminar series on IDPs:

  • September 2016: Importance of career management, how to conduct a self-assessment, the significance of an IDP, best practices for developing an IDP, goal setting, and how to discuss an IDP with a mentor (led by Rory Flinn, Columbia University)
  • September 2016: Differences between academia and industry, networking, informational interviews, and strategies for an effective job search (led by Dave Jensen, Founder and Managing Director for CTI Executive Search and writer for "Tooling Up" column for the journal Science)
  • September/October 2016: Transferable skills, career exploration, career options for PhDs, and personal branding (led by Victoria Blodgett, Assistant Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs at University of Connecticut)

Program participants provide elements of their IDPs to their Graduate School or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to ensure compliance, and are strongly encouraged to share portions of their IDPs with their faculty mentors.

Following the IDP seminar series, a monthly career panel and networking reception will allow trainees to learn about a variety of career opportunities both within and beyond academia. Postdoctoral researchers may also join peer mentoring groups to discuss their IDPs, career goals, and career exploration activities, and to receive support and feedback from their peers.

2015 IDP Program Summary

The following text may be used in NIH grant progress reports for trainees that had previously participated in the 2015 Columbia University IDP program:

The Columbia University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences co-sponsor an annual program to assist NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with the implementation of Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

The 2015 program commenced with a three-part seminar series on IDPs:

  • October 2015: The importance of career management, how to conduct a self-assessment, the significance of an IDP, and best practices for developing an IDP (led by Philip Clifford, University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • October 2015: Putting one's science to work, career exploration, networking, informational interviews, and identifying career mentors (led by Peter Fiske, CEO Pax Water Technologies, Inc.)
  • November 2015: formulating goals and implementing an IDP (led by Keith Micoli, NYU School of Medicine)

In addition, an optional workshop assisted trainees in the completion of an IDP. Program participants provide elements of their IDPs to their Graduate School or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to ensure compliance, and are encouraged to share portions of their IDPs with their faculty mentors.

Following the IDP seminar series, a monthly career panel and networking reception will allow trainees to learn about a variety of career opportunities both within and beyond academia. Postdoctoral researchers may also join peer mentoring groups to discuss their IDPs, career goals, and career exploration activities, and to receive support and feedback from their peers.

2014 IDP Program Summary

The following text may be used in NIH grant progress reports for trainees that had previously participated in the 2014 Columbia University IDP program:

In 2014 The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University co-sponsored an annual program to assist NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with the implementation of Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

The 2014 program featured a three-part seminar series on IDPs:

  • August 2014: The importance of career management, how to conduct a self-assessment, the significance of an IDP, and best practices for developing an IDP (led by Cynthia Fuhrmann, University of Massachusetts Medical School)
  • September 2014: Career exploration, formulating career goals, and implementing an IDP (led by Keith Micoli, NYU School of Medicine)
  • September 2014: The importance of networking, effective networking strategies, the value of informational interviews, and how to conduct an informational interview (led by Melanie Sinche, Harvard University)

In addition, an optional workshop was held to assist trainees in the completion of an IDP. Program participants provided elements of their IDPs to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to ensure compliance, and were encouraged to share portions of their IDPs with their faculty mentors.

Following the IDP seminar series, six career panel sessions were held to allow trainees the opportunity to learn about a variety of career opportunities both within and beyond academia. Postdoctoral researchers also had the opportunity to join peer mentoring groups to discuss their IDPs, career goals, and career exploration activities, and to receive support and feedback from their peers.

IDP FAQs

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) begins with a self-assessment. A student or postdoc would assess her or his own skills, interests, and values in a systematic way aimed at revealing strengths and areas needing improvement. The self-assessment also allows trainees to begin to understand how their skills, interests, and values should align in choosing the best possible career fit. Upon completing the self-assessment, the trainee should conduct career exploration activities with the goal of narrowing down career interests into a small number of potential career paths. The final part of the IDP is the actual planning segment. Trainees devise plans for career development that will allow them to reach their career goals. Generally, these plans should be designed so that they can be accomplished over 6-12 months and evaluated objectively. IDPs provide a means for students and postdocs to consult with their faculty mentors about their careers and research project goals. Ideally students and postdocs would meet annually with their faculty mentors to review portions of their IDPs.

Anyone interested in learning more about themselves and taking charge of their career goals! The IDP program developed at Columbia University was designed for NIH-funded postdoctoral trainees and graduate students, with a particular goal of reaching postdoctoral researchers in the first two years of training and graduate students in the third and fourth year of training. However, the program will be highly applicable to non-NIH-funded graduate students and postdocs as well.

Over the past several years there has been an increasing focus from grant funding agencies on assessing and improving graduate student and postdoctoral training. One leading example has been provided by the NIH, which commissioned a working group to specifically look at the current state of the biomedical workforce and the current training model. The working group generated a widely-read report(link is external) which concluded that significant improvements were needed in biomedical graduate and postdoctoral training in order for biomedical research careers to remain a desirable career path in the future. The working group formulated a series of recommendations aimed at addressing areas needing significant and immediate attention. Many of these recommendations were adopted by the NIH in an implementation strategy to be fully in place by 2015. One of the specific changes was a call for all NIH funded graduate students and postdocs, regardless of funding mechanism, to develop and utilize Individual Development Plans (IDPs).  The NIH released a notice about this new policy(link is external) in July 2013 and a revised policy(link is external) in October 2014.

You can create an IDP that is relevant to your discipline by clicking the links below and following the prompts.

Click here to access the free online self-assessment, career planning, and exploration tool for Humanities and Social Sciences postdocs and PhDs.

Click here to access the free online self-assessment, career planning, and exploration tool for STEM postdocs and PhDs.