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Individual Development Plan and Mentoring

Effective mentoring is critical to postdoc success and faculty career development. Mentoring is a commitment by Stanford to meaningful postdoctoral training and high quality training that entails mentoring opportunities and sufficient breadth of experience to prepare and exposure postdocs to a variety of career choices. 

Regular meetings between postdocs and faculty are required. This process ensures that dialogue in areas other than regular scientific discussions between the postdoc and sponsor take place, and serves as an opportunity to discuss deficiencies in performance or adjustments in future plans or expectations. 

Stanford has adopted a new Individual Development Plan (IDP) policy and encourages every postdoctoral sponsor to have three meetings with their postdocs:  

  • Initial Meeting:  A formal discussion within the first four weeks of the postdoc appointment. Meeting Goal: Career orientation, objectives, research project definition, and appraisal of needed skills.Initial Meeting Form
  • Annual Progress Meeting: A formal discussion at the anniversary of your appointment or, if easier, closely following the New Year. You should have analogous and complementary meetings with secondary mentors or other faculty mentors. It may be useful for them to attend in one larger meeting. Additionally, some departments have yearly committee meetings for postdocs. This is a great way to get broad and diverse feedback on progress and objectives, both short and long term. Meeting Goal: Progress is evaluated and goals are set for the following year.Annual Meeting Form
  • Exit Interview: A formal discussion at the end of appointment. Meeting Goal: Address future research trajectories; differentiation strategies if you are pursuing the same lines of research as the PI; and possible opportunities or plans for collaboration or future mentoring. 

Expectations for a faculty/postdoc mentoring relationship:

  • Encourage postdocs to seek secondary mentors to provide them with opportunities in new areas of research, foster collaboration, and offer them guidance and support to assist with career goals
  • Seek participation of these secondary mentors or multiple other faculty members in the annual progress reviews with postdocs
  • Encourage postdocs to participate in career development activities (workshops, courses, pre-conference events), recognizing that the short postdoc training period means seeking such information early in the training period.
  • Encourage postdocs to engage in social networking opportunities, such as attendance of talks and seminars in the department or University-wide.

Additional Resources: 

  • For those in the medical fields, the American Association of Medical Colleges’ Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors highlights the commitments by both the postdoctoral appointees and their mentors when entering into a mentoring relationship.
  • Collaboration & Team Science: A Field Guide. Bennett, Gadlin, & Levine-Finley. NIH. 2010.
  • Coaching and Mentoring: How to Develop Top Talent and Achieve Stronger Performance. Harvard Business Essentials series. HBS Press. 2004.
  • At the Helm: A Laboratory Navigator. Kathy Barker. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. 2002.
  • Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering. National Academy of Science/National Academy of Engineering/Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press. 1997.
  • Managing Scientists: Leadership Strategies in Scientific Research. Alice Sapienza. Wiley-Liss. 2004.
  • Getting the Most out of Your Mentoring Relationships: A Handbook for Women in STEM.  Donna J. Dean. Springer.