View a 508-compliant PDF of this issue here: NICHD_Connection_2013_03.pdf

As you take a closer look at the “myIDP” website, you’ll see that creating your very own IDP is only a four-step process: self-assessment, career exploration, goal setting, and plan implementation.

myIDP workflow

myIDP website landing page. Adapted from

Click image to enlarge.

The first step of the myIDP process is to complete three self-assessments that evaluate your skills, interests, and values. The process will help you reflect on what you enjoy doing and what you want to avoid in a future job, while providing a sense of skills you need to improve as a young scientist. The assessments are well executed, as they capture many topics that scientists think about when planning their career paths. For example, the skills assessment categories are based on the core competencies of the National Postdoctoral Association for PhD scholars, for example, research skills, communication, management, and leadership.

Using the information from your self-assessments, the second step provides match scores to 20 different career categories for scientists, from principal investigator in a research-intensive institution to clinical research management. This can help you determine which scientific career option best fits YOU and what vital skills you may need to succeed in a particular career path. The myIDP website also offers countless resources for this career exploration step while encouraging you to attend meetings, join professional societies, and talk to people associated with the career of your choice.

Once you have identified your preferred career path, the third step is to set goals, which help you move forward—one step at a time. Whether related to your career advancement, skill set, or research project in the lab, myIDP strongly suggests setting SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. It is important to focus on improving the target skills that potential employers value.

The fourth and final step is to implement your plan by completing task and meeting deadlines according to your specific goals. The myIDP site also prompts you to take the time to build a team of mentors with different expertise, as they can guide you throughout your career and help you meet your goals. Of course, it is important to keep the ultimate goal in mind—a satisfying and successful career.

Log in at and begin your myIDP self-assessments now!

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