Individual Development Plan – IDP

An IDP helps you reach goals and drives communication between you and your mentors

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a process that helps identify professional development needs, refine career objectives, and promote personal growth. Importantly, the IDP functions as a communication tool to enhance dialogue between mentors and their mentees.

While the IDP supports any mentee-mentor relationship, we particularly encourage all graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to use an IDP regularly to help you facilitate communication with your mentor. Use of an IDP also encourages efficient, reproducible, rigorous research and scholarly practices and those funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are required to complete an IDP, as explained by this policy page.

At CSU, we expect that all mentees will be provided the opportunity to develop the core competencies outlined below (modified from the National Postdoctoral Association):

  • Discipline Expertise
  • Research and Professional Development
  • Communication and Dialogue Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Management and Leadership Skills
  • Responsible and Safe Research Conduct

You will also find step-by-step actions and resources to start your IDP in the steps section below.

Start Your IDP

Step 1

EVALUATE Your Talents, Strengths, and Development Opportunities

  • In what areas are your talents and strengths?
  • In what areas can you improve, or what are new areas to learn?
  • What do you find energizing and motivating?
  • In your current role, what opportunities can help you develop and grow?
  • In the future, what opportunities do you want?

Step 2

CREATE Your Focused IDP Objectives and Action Steps

  • Review your previous objectives as well as the feedback you received from mentors, peers, family, and friends alongside your self-assessment.
  • Is feedback consistent with your assessment of strengths, weaknesses, and areas to grow?
  • Which opportunities for growth are most important for you?
  • Consider your current position and training in addition to your future aspirations. Consider your strengths and weaknesses. Where should you focus your growth?
  • Create IDP objectives.
  • What Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely (S.M.A.R.T.) strategies will you use to reach your objectives?
  • Who is in your mentor network? Do you need to add additional people to your network to cover the expertise and support you need?
  • Download the RAM IDP now or consider one of many other IDP options.

Step 3

CONSULT With Your Mentor

  • Schedule a consultation with your mentor about your draft IDP.
  • The Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring (GCIM) provides resources and tips for discussions.
  • Plan out and run the consultation with your mentor.
  • Bring the draft RAM IDP you created in Step 2 to the consultation.
  • In the consultation discuss and edit your IDP.
  • Consider filling out the IDP check sheet with your mentor as an informal contract.

Step 4


  • Put your IDP deadlines and timetable in your calendar.
  • Work with your mentor(s) toward the success and completion of the IDP.
  • Take ownership and responsibility for the plan. Be proactive.

Step 5

REVISIT your IDP – It’s Intended to be a Living Document

  • Update and revise your self-assessment and IDP annually.
  • Schedule a follow up meeting with your mentor – at least yearly – to ensure your progress.
  • Keep acting on the plan and maintain ownership.

RAM IDP Adapted from:

Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) IDP for Postdoctoral Fellows: previously located at on 

myIDP website:

Individual Development Plan for UCSF Faculty

Individual Development Plan for Case Western Reserve University Postdoctoral Trainees: previously located at on

The National Postdoctoral Association Postdoctoral Core Competencies:

University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School Office of Professional Development, DiscoverPD:

University of Southern California Office of postdoctoral Affairs:

Stanford Biosciences, Stanford University: (currently unpublished)

Yale University: