Individual Development Plans

The University of Virginia strongly encourages all postdocs, graduate students, and their mentors to develop and maintain an Individual Development Plan (IDP).  An IDP functions as a road map that identifies both professional development needs and career objectives.  It also serves as a tool to facilitate communication between mentee and mentor, and it can be a useful component of a broader mentoring program.  Writing an IDP involves:

  • Reflecting on one’s progress during the past year
  • Assessing strengths and weaknesses
  • Setting goals for the upcoming year
  • Carefully considering long-term career interests 

Outline of the IDP Process:

The development, implementation, and revision of the IDP require a series of steps to be conducted by the mentee, followed by discussion with his/her mentor.  These steps call for an interactive effort; ideally, both mentee and mentor will fully participate in the process.


Step 1

Development: Conduct an assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, and skills.  State your career goals and write your annual IDP.

Step 2

Implementation: Schedule an appointment with your mentor to discuss your skills assessment and IDP.  Implement the steps in your annual IDP to the best of your ability.

Step 3

Revision: Periodically review progress with your mentor.  Rewrite your IDP annually.  Modify your career objectives as necessary.


IDP Process for Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates

In response to  NIH guidelines the School of Medicine has instituted a process for the completion of Individual Development Plans (IDP) for all postdocs and graduate students funded through NIH training grants or other NIH sources.  Postdocs in other schools and those funded through non-NIH sources, such as NSF awards are also encouraged to use this process, but may wish to choose another format that better fits their training-related needs.  Additional templates and guides are provided below. The IDP process for postdocs in the School of Medicine has two components:  
  • The first is an online questionnaire through MyIDP, a resource created by the AAAS to aid in the development of postdocs in the sciences.  The postdoc will complete the online questionnaire and then use the results as a platform for discussions with a mentor or advisor about career interests/concerns.  
  • The second component is an annual performance evaluation to be completed by both the trainee and the mentor.  Once completed, the trainee and mentor will meet to discuss their respective answers.  Download the SoM IDP and Performance Evaluation Forms.
After the completion of both IDP elements, postdoc should upload the signatory page here by October 31 of each year.  If a postdoc begins her or his appointment in July, August or September, they need to only complete the first component of the IDP process during their first year. Office of Graduate and Postdoc Affairs will maintain an archive of these records, which will be available to PI and postdoc signatories upon their request (please submit requests to [email protected]).  
Faculty members and postdoctoral fellows/research associates who complete this process may also choose to submit questions 9 and 10 of the annual performance evaluation as supporting documentation for the postdoc extension process (for postdocs entering years 4 or beyond).  


Additional Paper-based Templates and Guides:

Sample 1 Comprehensive: Comprehensive 10 page document that outlines the IDP process and provides specific steps for Postdocs and Mentors (from Penn St. University)

Sample 2 Open-Ended: Open ended 5 page document that allows postdocs to answer questions regarding their current and future goals, training, and plans. (adapted from Vanderbilt University)

Sample 3 Short: 2 page document to indicate goals, objectives, and target dates for completion. (adapted from University of Wisconsin)


Additional Resources:

Career Planning Resources from the National Postdoc Association

Mentoring Plans for Postdoctoral Scholars

National Postdoc Association Core Competencies Checklist