Managing career development

In order to be prepared for your career of choice, it is best to start thinking about your career and professional development early. As students and postdocs, it may be tempting to push off career development until your final year. However, if you wait, you may miss on opportunities and run out of time to develop the skills you need.

Here is a possible timeline for thinking about your career development as a PhD student:

  • Years 1-2: Explore possible career options and determine most attractive career path(s).
  • Years 3-4: Hone skills necessary for chosen career path. Start making connections (on LinkedIn, at conferences, etc.) to help you transition into the next step of your career.
  • Years 5+: Continue to grow network and communicate your value. Actively seek job opportunities.

This timeline can easily be modified for master’s students and postdocs.

A useful tool for determining your skills and possible career options is an Individual development plan (IDP). An IDP helps you to develop specific goals for your career development and communicate these goals to your adviser.

Another career development tool for Duke graduate students is Duke OPTIONS. This tool allows you to select specific professional development programs at Duke that will propel you into the career that you want.


Please check out IDP, Duke OPTIONS and other helpful resources provided by The Graduate School at the following links: