Strategize with Individual Development Plan (IDP)
An individual development plan (IDP) is a personalized, interactive tool that you can use to identify and prioritize professional goals, and construct an actionable strategy to achieve them. Whether you are planning careers in academia or exploring non-academic positions, you will find IDPs to be a valuable device for managing their career and professional development while at Yale. An IDP provides tools for you to:
- Assess your skills, interests and values
- Explore career options
- Determine gaps in professional skills and create action plans to develop them
- Set research and professional goals and track progress
IDP tools can raise your productivity by helping you manage your time, direct your efforts more efficiently, and successfully meet PhD milestones and career development goals. By achieving greater clarity of career goals earlier in their graduate career, you can position yourself to invest in professional development that will enhance your success in the job market, regardless of your intended career path.
Free online IDP tools include:
- Imagine PhD is aimed at Humanities and Social Science PhDs but useful for anyone interested in non-STEM careers. Developed by the Graduate Career Consortium.
- MyIDP is for STEM PhDs and produced by AAAS.
- ChemIDP has content relevant to all STEM PhDs, by the American Chemical Society.
Self-Reflection and Assessment: Take the Time to Learn about YOU
This often-neglected step shouldn’t just be something you do during a job search or career change. It’s important to check in with yourself every few years as you navigate your professional life. What motivates and energizes you in your work? What are your skills, interests, and values? Have they changed over time? If so, how?
Tackle these questions by starting with the resources below. LinkedIn Learning courses such as “Taking Charge of Your Career” (free to Yale students and postdocs) also may provide fresh insight.
Understand your Transferable Skill-Set
Assessing the broad applicability of your skills will empower you with new perspectives on the value of your PhD work both within and outside of the academy. As you evaluate your skill-set, recognize that you possess an important set of skills through your graduate program and postdoc beyond the technical knowledge in your discipline that you have honed while at Yale. These skills are called “transferable” because they can be employed in a range of employer settings. The skills most cited by employers include: written and oral communication, project management, collaboration, and leadership. You already have developed many of these skills through your academic training, full or part-time jobs, and extra-curricular activities or hobbies.
The resources on this page can help you take stock of your particular skill set. These skills are a key input into the professional narrative that you will employ in your resume, cover letter, and interviews. While at Yale, seek out additional experiences that further develop these skills. They will benefit your future career, whatever course it takes. Note that to employers, relevant experience does not have to be a paid job. It can be any experience that develops skills that are important to their work.
Once you’ve reflected on your own career philosophy, it’s time to research job functions and industries to identify career that may be a strong fit. Not sure where to begin? Connect with an OCS Career Advisor.