What is an IDP?
An IDP is a formal tool to facilitate building a strategic plan for your future! By assessing where you are now, where you want to be after graduation, and steps to bridge that gap, you will have mapped a plan to accomplish your goals. The IDP is a “living document” to be updated as you accomplish milestones and refine goals. Periodic review with a mentor(s) is a means to assess your progress and get advice at each step of the way.
Why should I create an IDP?
As you would expect, students who use an IDP are much more likely to reach their goals and get the position they want in comparison to those who “wing it” with only a mental to-do list. Plus, having an IDP can be a factor in NIH grant proposals. Moreover, it takes a lot of time to accomplish the milestones needed to make you competitive for your desired post-graduate position. Mapping those tasks on a realistic timeline keeps them in focus and helps you stay on track to accomplish them.
There are many IDP tools and templates available; some are discipline-specific, such as ChemIDP. Which tool you use is less important than whether you use one; going through the process is what matters most. Below are two recommended IDP tools. Check them out and get your plan started!