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It is finally here… the free, online myIDP tool from Science Careers has been released! I am very excited about the online application because this individual development plan (IDP) tool is a great way to streamline the process of defining your career goals and provides an excellent step-by-step method with built-in ways to track your professional development progress. The myIDP tool is finely sectioned into areas of assessment, career exploration, setting goals and implementing a plan. Developing an IDP is not a quick and dirty process but requires due diligence and continual reevaluation of skills, interests and career goals. The myIDP tool is a comprehensive application that can help science professionals stay on task and stay organized in all aspects of professional development (and may put my blog out of business… :))
I ran across an evaluation of the myIDP tool in the blogging world by an early career researcher who gave the site “a test run and quick evaluation.” However, the individual’s opinions are quite unfair and highlight how not to use the tool. You will not get any value from the myIDP tool with an attitude of plowing through the assessments to reveal your destined career paths. The myIDP project team does not claim to be psychics or “fairy godmother scientists”, and the career fit results simply provide a starting ground for any early career scientist who desires to align their skills, interests and values in finding a purposeful science career path.
Thus, I would like to provide a fair assessment and overview of the first two sections of the myIDP tool to highlight some of the features and point out how beneficial this tool can be for your personal career development toolkit. Please note that myIDP provides copious amounts of useful career development resources and tips on each page; often, some of this information is embedded as links, so please be sure to read each section carefully and follow these links.
**If you don’t do anything else for your career development in the near future then at least take some time this week (1-2 hours) to visit the website, create a free account and work through these first two sections of the myIDP.**
There are three different personal assessments (skills, interests and values) to complete. As a reminder, the myIDP developers encourage the use of the entire range of scores (1 [low] – 5 [high]) when filling out the assessments for the most accurate results. Also, there is an option to download the skills assessment to ask others to rate you. (I plan on giving this sheet to at least two supervisors this week and then modifying my skills assessment with the average scores including mine.)
For the skills assessment, there is not an option to put ‘not applicable’ for some areas that do not apply to your field of study, so I just entered the lowest score (1 = highly deficient) for these skills. I also just want to point out that it is okay to have low scores because no one can be a master of all science skills domains. These assessments can help you to recognize where you might have deficiencies and then take actions to enhance these skill sets in later sections. Likewise, it is okay if you don’t like doing certain tasks listed in the interests assessment. It is just important to be honest with yourself to ensure an accurate personal evaluation.
Example Results from Scientific Skills Assessment
2. Career Exploration
The results of the skills and interests assessment will tabulate a list of potential “career fits” for you to consider out of around 60 common career paths for scientists. (Your values are not included because they are too subjective for quantitative analysis.) This personalized career path list then provides you links to additional resources on related science career information. To reiterate, myIDP is not telling you that these are the only career choices for you; it is simply applying a specialized algorithm to match your skills and interests with those skills/interests of professionals working in various science careers. This list is also not limiting you because you can always gain the skills that would be needed for other jobs.
And then take a break to breathe…. the process of career exploration can be an overwhelming process, as there are so many options and so much information to take in at one time. After working through the first two sections, take the next week or two to seriously consider your Plan A and Plan B career goal choices. Read through the suggested resources for each career option and decide which careers are the best for you. (These career choices can always be modified at any time as you learn more about yourself and other career routes.) Then you can revisit the myIDP tool to finish the “set goals” and “implement plan” sections.
Example Career Paths List – My Personal Results
Personal note: The myIDP tool is primarily being marketed to the postdoc community. As sales/marketing is one of my potential career fits ;), I understand that it is being targeted to a specific demographic based on multiple factors. I am slightly jaded by this fact, as I have been looking forward to the release of the tool, and there are 3X the amount of MS degrees awarded vs. PhDs in the science and engineering disciplines. Therefore, I would like to stress that this tool is definitely applicable to any early career scientist, regardless of education degree level (BS, MS or PhD), and I hope to be the living proof!
Comments section: How useful did you find the myIDP tool in assessing yourself and exploring different science careers?