With the start of the new year comes time for personal reflection and goal-setting for the months ahead. Whether or not you already have resolutions in mind, it may be the perfect time to think about your career goals in both the short and long term by crafting an individual development plan. An individual development plan, or IDP, helps you map out your goals and serves as a tool to discuss them with your mentors and others.
MyIDP, a new tool from Science Careers, simplifies and delineates the process for those in the science fields. This interactive web-based tool consists of four steps:
- Self-evaluating your skills, values, and interests
- Matching and exploring 20 diverse career paths
- Creating goals
- Implementing the plan
The tool includes exercises, tips, examples, and resources to guide you through the process of creating your own IDP.
One of the myIDP creators, Dr. Cynthia Furhmann, visited campus recently to talk about how to use this new tool. She shared a lot of great tips to help students as they work through each of the four steps, which are outlined below.
- It’s never too early or too late to start thinking about your career goals
- Confidently discuss your career plans and goals with others – you never know what opportunities and connections might arise
- Consider what is most important and most rewarding in a job. What do you enjoy? What are you good at? If these all overlap, you will be more satisfied in your work
- Not everything can be most important to you. Be honest with yourself about what you need to enjoy your work. What are the deal breakers?
- Learn as much as you can about different careers, especially those that match up with your skills, values, and interests
- Consider the skills you dislike or are weak in – can you work on those to better fit into a desired career?
- Read articles, join professional associations (many have student discounts), attend events
- Most importantly, talk to people! The myIDP site has lots of helpful information about conducting informational interviews
- Remember, no career will be perfect one hundred percent of the time
- Career advancement and skills development goals often get set aside for more urgent project or research related goals – schedule time and make yourself accountable for these important, but not urgent tasks
- Write down your goals and tell someone about them to make yourself accountable
- Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). The myIDP site has some great examples of these for different types of goals.
- Don’t try to do too much at once – focus on one or two skills to work on at a time
- Share your plan with peers and mentors
- Schedule a meeting with your advisor or other mentors to discuss the plan
- Speak with confidence – explain why this is important
- Think about what concerns your mentor may have
- What outcome do you want? What can your mentor help you achieve?
Have you tried myIDP? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!