Professional development to enhance core competencies in discipline-specific conceptual knowledge, research skills, communication skills, professionalism, leadership and management skills, and responsible conduct of research are key components of the GW postdoc experience.
During your time at the George Washington University (GW), we are committed to supporting your professional development.
Individual Development Plans (IDPs)
Postdocs are highly encouraged to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and update the plan at least once per year. IDPs provide a structure for the identification and achievement of career goals.
Please note that many sponsored projects, e.g., those funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH), require faculty to report on the use of IDPs for any graduate trainees or postdocs in their annual progress reports.
There are several IDP tools, and each is appropriate for different disciplines. Ask mentors or faculty in your field about which IDP tool is appropriate.
- myIDP, a free web-based career-planning tool for PhD students and postdocs in the sciences.
- ImaginePhD, a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences.
- The National Postdoctoral Association has created the Guide to Using an Individual Development Plan (My IDP & Me) to help navigate this process.
National Postdoc Association
GW is an institutional member in the National Postdoc Association, which provides many free resources on its website, and has a local chapter. GW postdocs have access to a free “affiliate” membership which can be claimed by visiting the organization’s website.
Postdocs can use the six core competencies outlined by the National Postdoc Association when crafting their IDP, goal-setting, or evaluating their own professional development. The following are suggestions for GW postdocs to develop skills within each area:
#1. Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge
- Attend department- and discipline-specific seminars.
- Cultivate mentor/mentee relationships with GW faculty and postdoc peers.
#2. Research skill development
- Attend national and international conferences and workshops.
- Seek training opportunities related to research techniques and methodologies.
- Explore training for researchers conducted by Gelman Library and/or Himmelfarb Library. Typical offerings include programming, visualizing data, statistics software, and mapping and spatial data.
- Enroll in coursework on research design and methods.
- Biostatistics for Clinical and Translational Research HSCI 6263 (3 credits)
- Clinical Investigation CTS 6205 (online, 3 credits)
- Access the resources and training provided by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National (CTSI-CN), a partnership with GW.
- Entrepreneurial postdocs may wish to consider learning more about the National Science Foundation-funded I-Corps program at GW or other innovation and venture creation programs.
- Postdocs can attend sessions hosted by GW’s Technology Commercialization Office to learn about patent protection and licensing of GW innovations to industry partners.
#3. Communication skills
- Identify opportunities to present your work on campus or at conferences. Practice with peers and in lab groups.
- Familiarize yourself with the scholarly writing resource guides and support provided by Gelman Library and Himmelfarb Library.
- Attend grant writing and proposal development sessions offered by your program, your school and the Research Enhancement Unit within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.
- Explore training and services provided by Gelman Library’s CREATE Digital Studio. Studio staff can help you use digital storytelling to effectively communicate your research and ideas in the online world.
- Take graduate-level coursework in teaching STEM.
- Volunteer for service opportunities within your department, professional organizations, or the GW Postdoc Association.
- Participate in professional development and career-oriented sessions.
#5. Leadership and management skills
- Supervise and mentor undergraduate and graduate student researchers.
- Explore modules on successfully managing up
#6. Responsible conduct of research
- Register to attend a monthly Responsible Conduct of Research session or for the semester-long RCR @ GW and Beyond course that is offered each fall and spring.
- GW offers online RCR training via Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)
- View online training modules cataloged by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at their Clearinghouse for Training Modules to Enhance Data Reproducibility.
- Enroll in graduate-level coursework on responsible conduct of research. Examples include Scientific Writing (BMSC 8216), and Careers in Biomedical Science (BMSC 8218).
In addition to a primary mentor/supervisor, postdocs should begin to build a network of peers, near-peers, and distinguished scholars and researchers that can provide diverse perspectives on the postdoc experience and career development. The Postdocs’ Guide to Gaining Independence, made available by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provides networking tips.
National Center for Professional Development and Diversity
GW is an Institutional Member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). The NCFDD is an independent faculty development center dedicated to supporting academics in making successful transitions throughout their careers. All GW postdocs have access to member resources, including webinars, discussion forums, writing challenges and accountability resources. Visit the GW Faculty Affairs website to learn how to access NCFDD.
GW affiliates have unlimited access to one of the top professional growth tools in the field. With LinkedIn Learning, you can learn new skills by taking a variety of workshops that are right at your fingertips.
Take advantage of Talent@GW - Learning to learn new skills and develop abilities that will help you in your career. Select “Browse for Training” under the Learning menu.
Tuition Remission and Exchange
Tuition remission and tuition exchange benefits are available to Postdoc Associates. Read more on the Postdoc Benefits Program webpage.
Resources for Biomedical Postdocs
The School of Medicine and Health Sciences website lists professional development opportunities and resources for postdocs on a biomedical research career path.
- Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty. Practical advice and experiences from seasoned biomedical investigators with chapters on laboratory leadership, getting funded, project management, and teaching and course design. This book is available for download from Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
- The Postdocs’ Guide to Gaining Independence, made available by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases may be helpful if you are a postdoc who eventually wants to be a principal investigator of your own lab, most likely as a faculty member at an academic institution.