Individual Development Plan

In academia IDP’s are generally thought of more for graduate students and post-docs; however, it is a great self-evaluation tool for faculty as well.

  • You have your mentor/advisor, now what?
  • How do you know what to do?
  • How do you know what is expected of you?
  • What do you expect of your advisor/mentor?

You need to start a conversation with your advisor/mentor. One way to approach this is to develop an IDP, an individual development plan. An IDP is a dynamic, private, annual self-evaluation. It is a way of helping define and pursue your career goals. The IDP is written and developed by you and serves as a framework for discussion between the mentor and mentee and may include a mix of both academic and non-academic goals. It can be a specific or broad as you need at a particular time.

An IDP can have many uses, overall it is a career planning tool that helps you explore possibilities and set goals. Your IDP should be a living document that is updated regularly; your IDP examines your skills, interests and values. It is a list of goals mapped to a timeline; it is not an assessment tool. Assessments are written by the mentor to track achievements/accomplishments.

As a graduate student you can use your IDP as a semester/yearly planner, making sure you include all the milestones required for your degree. As a post-doc it can help you define your career goals and provide you ways of leveraging your expertise. Graduate students and post-docs supported by NIH are required to complete an IDP.

In many ways your IDP is your plan for success. In preparing your IDP you will evaluate your skills, values and interests, you will conduct a self-assessment (strengths and weaknesses), set goals (long term and short time) including how to overcome your perceived weaknesses. When this is completed, you can put your plan into place.

There are many different formats for an IDP; one place to start for scientists and engineers is myIDP.  Information about myIDP and articles that you learn more about IDPs can be found here.