The individual development plan (IDP) is a process designed to help individuals think through their long-term career and degree completion goals. The aim is for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to work with their advisors to collaboratively create a document that clearly identifies current goals in a way that resonates with the student/postdoc's own long-term professional goals (informed by the advisor's expertise).
The IDP Process
|Graduate Students & Postdocs||Faculty Advisors & Mentors|
|Step 1||Conduct a self-assessment and identify areas for progress toward long- and short-term goals. Share your self-assessment and draft goals with your advisor/mentor.||Review student/postdoc's self-assessment and draft goals, and identify resources and opportunities to support their goals.|
|Step 2||Meet to discuss self-assessment, goals, resources, and opportunities.|
|Step 3||Write/revise goals for upcoming year and share with advisor.||Review your student/postdoc's goals for the year, and provide feedback in the form of comments/suggestions — ideally by way of a face-to-face meeting.|
|Step 4||Schedule mid-year check-ins (ideally every two months throughout the year) so that you can meet to discuss progress toward goals, and to revise goals as necessary.|
Because of its demonstrated usefulness in fostering professional development, the IDP is increasingly recognized as an important instrument for graduate students and postdocs. For example, the NIH currently requires that annual progress reports include a section explaining how IDPs are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdocs associated with an award. This, alongside a wealth of evidence surrounding the benefits of effective goal-setting for learning and performance, gives us good reason to conclude that the IDP — developed in the context of a partnership between the mentee and the mentor, implemented in a supportive environment — will enhance the experience and success of Georgia Tech graduate students and postdocs.