Building an Actionable Career Plan
Transitioning to a Postdoc Position
Using the content below, you will begin to plan for a fulfilling career – whatever that might be for you. You’ll look ahead to your next career step and incorporate your short-term goals into a longer-term career plan. Since there’s many different stages to career planning, we’ll provide you with two options for exploring the career planning process. You can choose your own adventure, if you will.
Course Module Introduction
- Recognize strategies to use different types of career planning tools effectively.
- Describe and prioritize your goals for your postdoc and connect them to longer-term career goals or ideas.
- Write a career plan, mapping identified goals onto a timeline and the milestones you need to achieve in order to be successful.
- Integrate career planning processes and reflections into day-to-day practice.
- Exploring Career Planning Resources
Before we jump into career planning, let’s take a step back and reflect on the differences between a job and a career. Listen to some of our colleagues reflect on what a job and a career mean to them.
Optional Reading Activity
If you’re interested in learning about the evidence-based research on career choices for PhDs, below are four optional readings you can explore.
Introducing Choose Your Own Adventure
Now it’s your turn to choose your own adventure! Choose one of the two options below. Feel free to explore both.
- Do you have a well-defined career goal? Is there one “X” on your map that stands out? You’re navigating towards a career goal.
- Are you exploring how you would define your career goal? Are there multiple “X”s on your map that you’re interested in? You are strategically exploring career goals.
Navigating Towards a Career Goal
Strategically Exploring Career Goals
Download a Guide to Career Planning Resources
Discussion Prompts: Reflecting on Career Planning Resources
After exploring career planning resources, here are a few discussion prompts:
- Where are you at in the process of choosing a career path?
- Which resources have you explored and which do you plan to explore?
- What challenged you in career planning? If you notice someone is struggling with an obstacle that you’ve now overcome, share how you overcame it.
- Building Your Career Plan
Introducing the Career Plan
Giving Valuable Feedback
Peer Feedback on Your Career Plan
The rubric below will help you evaluate the goals your peer has outlined in their career plan. Consider if the objectives are aligned with your peer’s overall career goal, and if they are measurable and attainable, in other words, are they SMART? Before you’re done, try to summarize your feedback into two main points.
After you receive peer feedback, take some time to reflect.
- How will you revise your plan?
- How did the peer review process help you clarify or improve your career plan?
- Putting Your Career Plan into Action
Now that you’ve explored some career planning resources and drafted a career plan, let’s talk about how you can implement that plan. How can you put your career plan into action?
Putting Your Plan into Action
Overcoming Obstacles on your Pathway to Success
- Are there strategies that you’ve used successfully in the past and could suggest to others who might face a similar barrier?
- Are there strategies that others came up that would be beneficial for you?
How to Put Your Career Plan into Action
Course Module References
- Gibbs, Kenneth D Jr, and Kimberly A Griffin. “What do I want to be with my PhD? The roles of personal values and structural dynamics in shaping the career interests of recent biomedical science PhD graduates.” CBE life sciences education, vol. 12, no. 4, 2013.
- Gibbs, Kenneth D, John McGready, and Kimberly Griffith. “Career Development among American Biomedical Postdocs.” CBE life sciences education, vol. 12, no. 4, 2015.
- “Informational Interview Guide.” InterSECT Job Simulations.
- Layton, Rebekah L et al. “Diversity Exiting the Academy: Influential Factors for the Career Choice of Well-Represented and Underrepresented Minority Scientists.” CBE life sciences education, vol. 15, no. 3 2016.
- Sinche, Melanie et al. “An evidence-based evaluation of transferable skills and job satisfaction for science PhDs.” PLOS ONE, vol. 12, no. 9, 2017.
- Science Careers: STEM-focused blogs
- Beyond Academia: Graduate student-run, highlights non-academic careers
- Beyond the Professoriate: Focuses on non-faculty careers
- InterSECT Job Simulations: Simulate daily tasks from different career paths (STEM and humanities)
- The Versatile PhD: View job application materials, new Options4Success course