The success of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers is significantly enhanced by established mentoring relationships with faculty. An instrument that can assist both faculty and protégés with developing a formal structure to the mentoring process is the Individual Development Plan (IDP). IDPs provide a structure for the identification and achievement of career goals.
A report made by a Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director recommended “a call for IDPs for all NIH-supported graduate students and/or postdoctoral researchers.” Therefore, NIH annual progress reports received on/after October 1, 2014 must include a section to describe how individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the award. The revised policy is being implemented to better prepare students and postdocs to participate successfully in evolving research and a research-related economy.
This program, co-sponsored by the Office of Research and Engagement, through the University of Tennessee Graduate School, assists NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with the implementation of IDPs. An IDP consists of a self-assessment of skills, interests, and values that guides the development of short- and long-term plans to achieve career goals.
The UTK IDP program consists of training and workshop opportunities from both the Office of Research and Engagement and the Office of Graduate Training and Mentorship as well as additional guidance information about IDP development and utility. These services are designed to help you develop your IDP and assist you in identifying your career goals.
Developing Your IDP
You will develop your IDP via the myIDP site, which provides a step-by-step guide through the process. Begin by completing a free registration. Upon registration, you will be able to complete your IDP following the instructions provided. It is always a good idea to save a printed or digital copy of your IDP.
For more information, visit the Graduate School website.
Below, you will find links to IDP programs at other organizations that might be useful as you start the creation and implementation process.
- Brown University’s IDP program
- Iowa State University’s IDP for Graduate Students and Postdocs
- University of Minnesota IDP for Graduate Students