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   This standardized Postdoctoral Career Development and Progress Assessment will:

   • Empower you to proactively manage your career goals and career trajectory.
   • Provide you the opportunity to talk to your faculty mentor about your career goals and
     objectives at the beginning of your training.
   • Allow you to openly explore a range of career options if desired.
   • Create a structured yet flexible venue for your faculty mentor to communicate his or her
     expectations to you, to establish objective criteria for your success, and for your faculty
     mentor to define time and resources devoted to your technical and professional skill development.
   • Provide a mechanism for your faculty mentor to communicate constructive feedback to you and to
     articulate a timely and clearly defined performance improvement strategy if needed
.

   View the Postdoc Checklist for a summary and timeline for postdoc responsibilities.
 

STEP 1) Develop a mutually agreed upon Postdoctoral Career
               Development Plan with your primary faculty mentor.

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A Postdoctoral Career Development Plan is a professional tool which outlines long-term and short-term objectives that you and your primary faculty mentor have identified as important steps in your professional development. Use this document, preferably before accepting your postdoctoral appointment, to guide discussions with your primary faculty mentor regarding your goals as well as his or her expectations. A comprehensive review of your career goals and objectives with your primary faculty mentor early in your postdoctoral training, even if you are undecided, will increase the likelihood of your being successful and satisfied with your postdoctoral experience.

The Career Development Plan highlights core competencies of a successful postdoctoral experience and includes four specific fields:

      1) Research Accomplishments
      2) Presentation Experience
      3) Publication Record
      4) Professional Development

Each postdoctoral appointment is unique; therefore a 5th field is provided to customize the Career Development Plan to meet your individual career goals. If you are pursuing an academic career, a 6th field is provided to articulate strategies for establishing your research independence.

After you accept a postdoctoral appointment, work with your primary faculty mentor to formalize an initial Career Development Plan. Print this document, acquire your primary faculty mentor's signature, and email a scanned file to the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs at
postdoc@hs.pitt.edu within the first 90 days of your appointment. Career Development Plans are required annually. It will be your responsibility to prepare an updated Career Development Plan for your primary faculty mentor to review and approve during your annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment review meeting. Your primary faculty mentor must provide an updated Career Development Plan for you, along with the other required paperwork, as a condition of your reappointment.

STEP 2) Consult with your primary faculty mentor to determine who
               might be good candidates to serve on your mentoring team.

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Every postdoc is expected to build relationships with faculty members and professionals other than his or her primary faculty mentor. To help you build initial relationships, consult with your primary faculty mentor to identify two faculty members or professionals in addition to your primary faculty mentor to serve as members of your mentoring team. In some cases, a school may assign faculty representatives to serve this role for the school’s postdoc community. If this is the practice in your school, your primary faculty mentor will introduce you to these individuals. If not, we recommend that you discuss with your primary faculty mentor who might be well suited to serve on your mentoring team.

These individuals should be accessible to you, knowledgeable in your area of research, and complement your career goals. Take the initiative and help your primary faculty mentor to identify who might be able to contribute to your scientific and professional development especially if you are interested in a career outside of academia. It will be your primary faculty mentor’s responsibility to help you initiate contact with the members of your mentoring team, however after that, you will be responsible for developing and managing your relationships with these two individuals. Establish a pattern of communicating that fits your needs and accommodates your mentoring team members’ schedules and preferences. Your primary faculty mentor will be seeking feedback from your mentoring team members, at least quarterly, with regard to your scientific and professional maturation.

You are to identify the members of your mentoring team on your Career Development Plan and these members may change during the course of your training as needed or as necessary. Do not limit your interactions to only those who are officially designated as part of your mentoring team; use these individuals to help you meet other colleagues and develop additional mentoring relationships so that you cultivate a rich network of support during your postdoctoral training.

STEP 3) Track your career development progress using the
               Postdoctoral Self Assessment form.

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The Postdoctoral Self Assessment instrument allows you to track accomplishments that are aligned with your Career Development Plan’s core competencies (research accomplishments, presentation experience, publication record, professional development) as well as to track the customized criteria you articulated within your individualized plan. This exercise also provides a structure for you to document experiences that might otherwise be overlooked or omitted from your curriculum vitae, e.g., the writing stage of a manuscript or a grant application in progress. Capture everything that is relevant to your career growth.

STEP 4) Prepare for your annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment
               review meeting with your primary faculty mentor.

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Although we recommend that you review your progress with your primary faculty mentor and mentoring team members on an ongoing basis, you will be required to submit a formal Postdoctoral Self Assessment to these individuals 120 days prior to the end of your postdoctoral appointment contract in preparation for your annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment review meeting. This is required so that your primary faculty mentor and mentoring team members can review your self assessment in advance of your primary faculty mentor completing your annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment.

If your primary faculty mentor plans to reappoint you, you must also provide your primary faculty mentor a draft of your updated Career Development Plan in addition to your Postdoctoral Self Assessment. Seek input from your mentoring team when you are updating your Career Development Plan.
 

You must receive 90 days notice if your postdoctoral appointment is not being renewed therefore your primary faculty mentor is required to schedule your Postdoctoral Progress Assessment review meeting in advance of this deadline. Providing your primary faculty mentor and members of your mentoring team your Postdoctoral Self Assessment 120 days before the expiration of your postdoctoral appointment, along with your updated Career Development Plan if appropriate, allows them 30 days to confer regarding your annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment. Whereas your primary faculty mentor will solicit input from your mentoring team members, he or she will ultimately be responsible for completing the Postdoctoral Progress Assessment and scheduling your Postdoctoral Progress Assessment review meeting.

Familiarize yourself with the Postdoctoral Progress Assessment form that your primary faculty mentor will be using to assess your annual progress. It corresponds very closely with your Postdoctoral Self Assessment with regard to core competencies: research accomplishments, presentation experience, publication record, and professional development. Your primary faculty mentor will also critique your progress towards the customized career criteria articulated within your Career Development Plan.

 

The core competencies alone do not encompass the breadth of skills necessary for a successful postdoctoral experience. The Postdoctoral Progress Assessment provides your primary faculty mentor the additional dimension of assessing your performance with regard to the following factors:

      1) Execution of Research
      2) Knowledge of Literature
      3) Professional Communication
      4) Interpersonal Skills
      5) Self-Improvement
 

In the event that your primary faculty mentor determines that you are in need of significant  improvement in a given competency or performance factor, your primary faculty mentor is required to develop a clearly defined Performance Improvement Plan and timeline. He or she may use the Performance Improvement Plan template or draft a separate document. If a Performance Improvement Plan is in effect, your primary faculty mentor will specify a timeline for a follow up review as part of your Postdoctoral Progress Assessment.

If your primary faculty mentor plans to reappoint you, he or she will provide feedback regarding your updated Career Development Plan during your progress review meeting. The Postdoctoral Progress Assessment process requires that your primary faculty mentor approve your updated Career Development Plan as a condition of your reappointment.
 

If you are completing your training or not being reappointed, and have accepted other employment, provide your primary faculty mentor a completed Outcome Summary form during your final progress review meeting.

Darlene Zellers, Director of the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences is available to provide referrals or to consult with you confidentially regarding your postdoctoral training experience.


The Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences will prompt you with regard to deadlines.

Electronic forms are to be forwarded to postdoc@hs.pitt.edu.

For general questions or assistance, contact the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences at
                                                  postdoc@hs.pitt.edu or (412) 648-8486.

For referrals or consultations with regard to specific postdoctoral personnel matters, contact:
                                                  Darlene Zellers, PhD, Director
                                                  Tammy Dennis,  Postdoctoral Affairs Coordinator