Career Exploration and Development Tools

Career Exploration and Development Tools

Self-Assessment Exercises

Foundations of Successful Career Planning and Development Course
Foundations of Successful Career Planning and Development is a credit-bearing course offered by the Center for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Career Development and providing foundational training in self-directed professional development and career planning. Key skills that graduate students and postdocs build are:

  • Increasing your capacity for self-directed career development
  • Fostering life-long career management habits
  • Maximizing your scholarly training success
  • Shaping positive career outcomes


Versatile PhD is an online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for doctoral students.

PhD Futures Now! is a podcast on career diversity and graduate education in the Humanities. This podcast is part of The Andrew W. Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls Consortium project based at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 

Humanities Ph.D. students have access to advising and coaching by the Senior Director of Graduate Advising and Engagement through the Humanities Engage grant project.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)
An IDP helps students be intentional about setting goals and planning for a career while in graduate school. It also supports students in assessing their values and individual skill sets relative to career goals and documenting progress in acquiring both the depth of research and breadth of other skills sought by employers. IDPs are an excellent tool to help students and their mentors establish expectations and effectively communicate research and career goals in a collaborative and iterative process.

For a brief narrated slide show introducing IDPs, click here (opens website of the Graduate School, UW-Madison)

The University of Pittsburgh has designed an IDP template to assist graduate students in identifying professional goals and objectives, assessing skill sets relative to career goals, and developing a plan to acquire the skills and competencies to achieve career objectives.


Domain-specific IDPs recommended by Dietrich School Office of Graduate Studies

Humanities and Social Sciences
ImaginePhD was developed by experts from over 50 universities under the auspices of the Graduate Career Consortium. This newly launched career exploration and planning tool is designed specifically for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in humanities and social sciences. On ImaginePhD, students are able to assess career-related skills, interests, and values, explore career paths appropriate to their discipline, create self-defined goals, and map out the next steps for their career. The tool has already been very widely adopted by graduate students across the U.S.A. and beyond.

Natural Sciences 
A well-established interactive website, myIDP, is designed as a career-planning tool for doctoral students and postdocs in the sciences. A four-step process involves self-assessment, career exploration, goals, and implementation.

AURORA is an eLearning Career Exploration Platform from Beyond the Professoriate that can help you:

  • Explore different career paths, and hear from PhDs currently in those fields;
  • Develop the materials and skills you will need on a job search such as resume writing, interview techniques, and networking strategies;
  • Develop the language to translate your academic experiences into workplace skills;

To access AURORA:

  1. Login to
  2. Click "Browse Categories" under the search bar.
  3. Click "Careers" in the dropdown.
  4. Click on the "AURORA" link

Additional University of Pittsburgh Career Development Resources

Career Center Career Services for Graduate Students
The Career Center offers resume help, mock interviews, etc. 

Center for Doctoral/Postdoctoral Career Development
The Center for Doctroal/Postdoctoral Career Development has been established to leverage institutional resources to meet the career development needs of early career scholars across all schools. Check out the center's website for event listings directed at doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. 

Clinical and Translational Science Institute's RCR Workshops
The Clinical and Translational Science Institute hosts lectures and case study-centered workshops on research ethics. 

Office of Academic Career Development's Research Series
The Office of Academic Career Development is dedicated to providing professionals in the schools of the health sciences with the tools, resources, and support they need to achieve their full potential as leaders in biomedical research, education, and clinical practice.

Writing Center Services for Graduate Students
The Writing Center offers one-on-one tutoring for graduate students, as well as dissertation boot camps and writing days.

University Library System Services for Graduate Students
The University Library System provides a variety of services and programming for graduate students, including workshops on scholarly communication and publishing. Check out the Dissertation Writing and Graduate Study Rooms.

A Report on Professional Development and Career Preparation

In 2018, the University of Pittsburgh’s Council on Graduate Study Subcommittee on Graduate Student Affairs produced a report on professional development and career preparation. Click here to download the report, Pathways to Success—Preparing Graduate and Professional Students for the Diverse Careers of Tomorrow.