Today’s job market is challenging. You need a clear idea of the type of career you want and a strategy for success. Engaging in professional development activities while you are still in graduate school can give you an invaluable head-start in the job market and bring added focus and direction to your academic work.

As early as possible in your program, you should set aside some time to evaluate and document your existing skills and set realistic short-term and long-term professional goals. One way to do this is through the creation of an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

An IDP is a document that describes your existing professional skills and qualifications, your career aspirations, and your professional development plan for the next year. You can share your IDP with others, or you can keep it private.

Your IDP should answer three questions regarding your professional development journey:

1. Who are you?
2. Where are you going?
3. How will you get there?

Revisit your IDP every year and your career narrative will take shape.

If you are ready to start, then proceed to Question 1.