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best practices for graduate students

Graduate Students: Why do I want or need to use an IDP?

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are a customized road-map for your professional training and goals. The IDP process guides you to reflect on your ultimate career goals, where you are now, and define specific actions toward achieving those goals. IDPs can help you make the most of your graduate training, which is dedicated to developing your research, professional and communication skills.

IDPs will prompt you to:

  • Clarify short – medium- and long-term academic and professional goals
  • Identify areas that need development and locate helpful resources
  • Garner timely support from your mentor and strengthen your relationship
  • Create an action plan for your academic and professional development

Graduate Students: How do I prepare for the IDP

Before taking an IDP assessment:

  1. Give yourself 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time to take the assessment.
  2. Be reflective and honest with yourself about your skills, interests and values.
  3. Take the assessment individually

Setting Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic, and Time bound (SMART) Goals:

  1. Be honest about your strengths and weakness
  2. Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a specific time-frame
  3. Hold yourself accountable with an IDP colleague or work-group

After taking an IDP assessment:

  1. Contact the UCLA Career Center and set up an appointment to meet with a career counselor and discuss your next steps.  Career Counselors are trained to help you think through the complicated process of career development and decision making.  They can also help you develop short and long term goals, and strategies for speaking to a mentor about your IDP.
  2. If your SMART goals are related to article publication, presenting at conferences, applying for fellowships or grants, thesis or dissertation writing, or writing an effective teaching philosophy or research statement, attend workshops at the Graduate Writing Center, and schedule free, one-on-one 50 minute appointments with experienced graduate writing consultants: http://gsrc.ucla.edu/gwc
  3. Work on creating a network outside of your program to develop professional relationships and external mentorship.

Tips for using the myIDP (Sciences and Engineering)

  1. The career path matches are one way of thinking about choosing your career.  The results are not predictive, but rather serve as a starting place to explore and learn about these career paths.  Be open to careers you hadn’t previously considered
  2. Leverage the available MyIDP resources to learn more about the career paths
  3. Answer questions using a range of responses from 1 to 5 to receive the most accurate career path matches

Graduate Students: How do I speak to my advisor/mentor about my IDP?

Complete the IDP and research potential resources in advance of your meeting. You want to come to the meeting with some ideas of how you plan to integrate your plans with your SMART goals. Your advisor/mentor may respond well to receiving a copy of your IDP a few days before your scheduled meeting to have time to review and consider the assessment.

  1. Meet with a career advisor to discuss individual strategies for introducing this to your PI
  2. If you have a challenging relationship with your PI, advisor, or mentor, contact the Graduate Student Resource Center to review your individual situation and options. Email gsrc@saonet.ucla.edu to make an appointment for a one-on-one meeting with staff.
  3. Share your completed IDP or a relevant portion of the IDP with your advisor
  4. Bring your SMART goals to your meeting – identifying what you plan to work on and accomplish in the coming month, 3 months and year
  5. Be prepared to discuss how the IDP could benefit the your research and degree progress
  6. Manage your expectations around how much your advisor knows about some of the career paths, and try to limit questions about those paths.