Graduate school is often overwhelming, and all the skills acquired in the process can be difficult to track. York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) is here to help, with its new Individualized Development Plan (IDP) that allows students to recognize their achievements, organize them into categories and identify areas that still need to be developed.
Given the competition for jobs, it is important for future graduates to be proactive. With the help of the IDP, students can create a customized plan to build on their professional skills that will help them succeed in the future.
The IDP is part of a cyclical process that asks students to assess their current level of expertise, identify areas they would like to improve on and map out a plan for achieving these goals. It clearly outlines six major areas that students can focus on: career exploration and planning; communication; health and wellness; managing time and resources; research dissemination; and teaching. Each category is important for a well-balanced graduate experience.
This handy tool acts as a support structure that helps students decide what they want to get out their degree, and what they want to achieve after graduation. The IDP allows students to create their own individualized path to follow during their graduate studies. The process is guided by questions that help students evaluate how much they undertook in each of the six areas and identify specific goals for the future, making it easier to concentrate on individual tasks. Since the IDP is a living document, students can add to it from year to year as they develop new skills. Graduate students can begin developing their professional skills by visiting the Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Skills (GPPS) web page for opportunities and resources offered by the University.
The IDP can also be a great way to start conversations with supervisors, graduate program directors and career advisers who would be able to address specific areas of concern that students might have. Course directors can use the IDP as a tool in workshops that are focused on professional development or to get conversations started around postgraduate plans in seminars. Additionally, the IDP can be shared with peers. It can be a starting place to form bonds with other graduate students and find similar interests within the community.
Graduate students who elect to complete the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ IDP this academic year will be issued a certification of completion at the conclusion of the Winter 2022 term that they can highlight on their resume.