How to Prepare Your IDP

The University of Pittsburgh has developed a template to help you craft your own IDP for mapping out your academic and professional development.

  • Please note that this template is meant to be a starting point, and it can and should be edited/expanded/modified as you and your mentors see fit.
  • Item #4 in the template refers to a set of suggested “Graduate Student Skills” that most students should develop during their years of graduate training. However, note that the range of skill development should be individualized for your personal training program and objectives.
  • The IDP you create is a document you will want to revisit again and again, to update and refine as your goals change and/or come into focus, and to record your progress and accomplishments.

Many online resources can help you expand your thinking and consider your options in order to maximize success during graduate training.

  • For graduate students in the natural sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) online tool “myIDP” http://myidp.sciencecareers.org provides a comprehensive set of materials and exercises that will guide you through the process of self-assessment, career exploration, goal-setting, and implementation of your plan. Set up a free account and create and monitor your own IDP at myIDP.
  • All students, including those in the social sciences and humanities, can use the University of Pittsburgh’s template along with the suggestions below in order to create their IDPs.

STEP 1: Conduct a Self-Assessment and Write the IDP

Identify your current strengths and achievements, and areas that you need to work on as you develop skills that will lead to your success as a graduate student, and beyond. The IDP template helps you map out the general path you want to take toward achieving your goals. The template can be expanded and modified to fit your own list of goals and strategies. At a minimum, your IDP should consider:

  • Graduate Program Responsibilities
    • What requirements do you need to complete during the next year? Two years?
    • What scholarly activities would you like to accomplish during the next year? Two years? (Examples: present at a conference, write a review article . . .)
  • Career Exploration/Career Interests
    • What type of work would you like to do? What is important to you in your post-graduate career?
    • How will you develop contacts--a network--related to your career exploration goals?

STEP 2: Discuss with Mentor/Advisor

Discuss your self-assessment and plans and talk about your career interests with your advisor and/or trusted mentor in order to identify developmental needs and areas to work on. By helping you compare current skills and strengths with those needed to achieve your career objectives, an advisor can be an important ally.

STEP 3: Implement the Plan

Put your plan into action. Stay organized and seek out the support you need to stay on track. Commit to the plan, but also remember that you need to be flexible and modify your plan as your goals or circumstances change.