By Yvette Pittman, PhD
Dr. Philip Clifford, associate dean and professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, led an interactive workshop titled “Put your PhD to Work: Planning for a Successful Career in Science” on January 16th. He conveyed an overall message to a group of postdoc fellows: an Individualized Development Plan (IDP) is a must-have item that can guide you into a fulfilling and productive career. Subsequently, you may ask yourself, “How can an IDP help me to identify and pursue my career objectives?”
To start, he shared attention-grabbing data on scientific careers. Interestingly, the population of talented doctoral recipients has grown, but the percentage of scientists employed in tenured or tenure-track positions has steadily decreased since the 1990’s. This, of course, has made the competition for academic jobs much tougher for postdocs. Thinking about these facts—as many of us are interested in becoming a faculty member—causes us to wonder: “then what is the next move for me?” Thankfully, with enthusiasm, Dr. Clifford assured the audience that a basket full of career options exists for PhD scientists. Whether it is in academia or away from the bench, he encouraged us to take time to identify the careers that best suit us, even if they are unfamiliar.
Dr. Clifford suggested that there are two types of people in the world—people who plan and people who take life as it comes. In order to succeed in science, he advised us that we need a game plan to prepare for our desired career paths. Supporting his advice, research has shown that people with a structured plan achieve greater career success as measured by salary, promotions, and job satisfaction.
To help identify career aspirations that are the right fit and develop a step-by-step plan to reach them, Dr. Clifford, one of the authors of http://myIDP.sciencecareers.org, shared with us this new interactive, Internet-based career-planning tool tailored to meet the needs of postdocs and graduate students in the sciences. There is no charge to use the site and your information is kept private.
Over the next few months, we will feature the amazing myIDP features in a regular “Career Planning with myIDP” column in this newsletter. The next myIDP column will discuss the four-step process to create your own Individualized Development Plan using the myIDP website. It’s waiting for you, visit the website and begin your own career planning process!