Individual Development Planning Steps

You may find it helpful to review the IDP template and then returning to these planning steps, and to reference the template while completing the planning steps.  Also consider availing yourself of the resources and services of the Career Services Center, including schedule an appointment with a counselor

It is well positioned to help you identify both career aspirations and career milestones, connect you with additional resources, and help you maximize the use of those listed below.  Career counselors can serve as an impartial sounding board, listening and reflecting to help you better refine your goals and trajectory.

Steps to Planning your Individual Development

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Identify your career aspirations (long-term goals)

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Imagine what you want to be doing and where you want to be 10-15 years from now.  At this point you may have focused in on a particular career path or may envision several potential career trajectories.  It is difficult to plan a trip without a destination in mind.  Since many people have more than one career in their lifetime…and many embark on a career path that takes unexpected turns…even if you have one particular career goal in mind, identify 2-3 other potentially acceptable alternatives.

You may find it useful to schedule an appointment with a Career Services Center counselor - and/or examine the following resources:

Identify career milestones implicated in your aspirations (intermediary goals)

We don’t reach long-term goals without reaching intermediary goals along the way.  Take 1-2 of the long-term aspirational career goals you identified and map out 2-4 intermediary goals.  For instance, if your career aspiration is a tenured faculty position, you must first obtain a tenure-track junior faculty position and then meet the requirements for tenure, or if your career aspiration is to supervise your own lab, you will likely need to first obtain a position in a lab and then subsequent positions with additional responsibility.

You may find it useful to schedule an appointment with a Career Services Center counselor - and/or examine the following resources:

Conduct an informational interview, a great way to gather information about careers because it also functions as a form of networking at the same time - 

Career Resources


O*NET Online  

My Next Move

Inside Jobs

Road Trip Nation

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Cornerstone

Careers UW

Highered Jobs 

USA Jobs


Career Builder

Quint Careers

Job Interview

Philanthropy Northwest

Job Hunter's Bible



Glass Door


Simply Hired


Log in to Handshake (Marquette’s Career Services online manager). Use your CheckMarq credentials to log in.

Identify requisite skills and knowledge

Take 2-3 of the intermediary goals you identified (this might be a couple successive intermediary goals on the same career path or initial intermediary goals on a couple potential career paths) and list the requisite skills and knowledge for obtaining that goal.  For instance, if your career aspiration is a tenured faculty position, you may identify the skills and knowledge necessary to obtain a tenure-track junior faculty position and also the skills and knowledge associated with requirements for tenure.  Alternatively, you may envision yourself running a non-profit or as a policy wonk in a government agency, and identify the skills and knowledge associated with the intermediary goals for those aspirations.

You may find it useful to examine the following resources:

Conduct self-assessment

It is helpful to appropriately assess where you are now in order to determine a course for reaching your destination.  Because we are so closely affiliated with our own “now,” self-assessment is sometimes undervalued.  You’ve already engaged in significant personal and professional development on your way to graduate school.  Applying a formal lens to assess the skills and knowledge you have already developed can be informative. Complete at least four of the following self-assessments:

General self assessments

Leadership self assessments

Professional skills self assessments

Develop objectives based on those opportunities

Select 2-4 areas for potential growth in each of the areas and listed and develop 2-4 objectives for each.  Each objective should be written so it is measurable, attainable and time-bound.  As you consider your areas for growth and the derive objective informed by them, consider:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Why do you want to accomplish it? In what ways does it move you toward your goal(s)?
  • How long do you think it will take to accomplish it?
  • How will you know when you’ve accomplished it?
  • Is it a reasonable to pursue now or should it be pursued at a later time?

Identify PFFP resources for reaching your objectives

In light of the objectives you’ve specified, identify PFFP opportunities, events or resources that you think may help you achieve those objectives.  Based on your review of the components of the PFFP program, select a PFFP Track and any elective components associated with that track. You are welcome to change your track and elective concentrations as you progress through the program, but identifying an initial track and elective concentrations at this point will guide your initial participation.

Share your initial IDP with your advisor and/or mentor and update accordingly

The IDP is also a communication tool.  The final step in this part of the planning process/product is to review your IDP with your mentor and/or advisor.  Although you will not be required to submit changes to and progress on your IDP until the IDP Reflection as you near the end of your PFFP participation, you are strongly encouraged to view the IDP as a living document that you will modify and update as you move through your graduate studies and the PFFP program.  

Development Plan Worksheets

IDP Worksheet

IDP Reflection