Individual Development Plans (IDPs) Are For Everyone

The Individualized Development Plan (or, IDP) has long been used outside of science to help professionals better understand what their professional goals are and what skills, knowledge, and experience they need to achieve those goals. It’s a very effective career planning tool. Over the past decade, this career planning tool has been increasingly used with science professionals, particularly with doctoral students and postdocs, and its use is now required for NIH-funded pre- and postdoctoral training. This has been in part because of the development of myIDP, a science-oriented online IDP tool hosted by the Science Careers website.
The myIDP tool uses a four-step process to help you identify the career goals that match your interests and strengths and develop a step-by-step plan to reach those goals. An advantage of myIDP over other IDP development tools is that it has an algorithm to calculate match scores between your self-identified strengths and interests and a panel of 60 different career paths. This is helpful information that faculty mentors are often not well positioned to provide (since they are most familiar with their own faculty career path). An important limitation is that there are many more careers in science beyond just these, and that any list of career matches should be considered a starting point for further consideration.

We will be developing more in-depth content regarding the development and use of IDPs. However, until that content is available, we want to provide a few resources that describe the usefulness of an IDP in career planning and help you better understand how to use IDP planning for your career stage and situation.

Resources to make and use IDPs

For graduate students and postdocs, and faculty mentors who will be helping them

For undergraduates

For any professional in academic science interested in developing an IDP for their own career (faculty, staff, etc)

Career Exploration opportunities

What are your thoughts on or experience with IDPs? Tell us in the comments below! If you know of any content or resources that should be included here, email me at

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