Individual Development Plans


An IDP may be as simple as a hand-written document on which you identify your main skills and interests, note your intended career path, and list the steps you need to take to get one step closer to beginning your future career. The IDP can be broken down into 3 basic steps: 

1) Identify your goals

IDPs usually begin with a self-assessment to help you identify your skills, interests and values. This self knowledge will make it easier for you to identify the goals that will help you to be successful in your research and your chosen career. The assessment can also help you identify potential career options if you are uncertain about which career to pursue.  Examples include:

  • To develop a new research method, write a paper, or present your work at a conference
  • To expand your skills in communicating your research to diverse audiences. 
  • To broaden your job search to careers in industry

2) Break down your goals into SMART objectives and Actions

In order to achieve your goals you will need to undertake specific objectives or activities that will help you to achieve your goals. See the next tab for more information on this.

3) Evaluate your progress at regular intervals

It is important to create timelines for review, to ensure that you are on track with your goals. This does not mean you need to be rigid about your plans, as there are many occasions where circumstances change or opportunities arise. Instead it means that you should be deliberate about your choices in order to avoid getting sidetracked by projects that may not be in line with your goals. It may be helpful to schedule a regular meeting with your mentor or another researcher in your field to discuss your progress and goals.

Below is an example of how these components fit together: