Skip to main content
Sign In

Make the most of your time

​​"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else" - Yogi​ Berra.

Successful career transitions in today's world require more than just discipline-specific knowledge and technical expertise. ​ 
​Before you can identify what additional skills and qualifications you need to transition in your career, you first need to decide where you want to go. One of the best ways to determine this is by creating a Career Plan or Individual Development Plan (IDP). We highly encourage you to not only create an IDP, but also to discuss it with your mentor(s). Feel free to use our online Individual Career Plan (ICP)​ tool, or any of the other resources available online (e.g., myIDP.)   

Core ​Competencies

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has identified six core competencies that every postdoctoral fellow should acquire by the end of their training. Ideally, you will have begun working on these competencies while you were a predcotoral trainee, and all current predoctoral trainees should try to incorporate these competencies into their training. Proficiency with these core competencies will help ensure that you develop the skills and abilities necessary to succeed both inside and outside of academia. You should strive for proficiency in each of the following areas:

  1. ​Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge

  2. Research skill development

  3. Communication skills

  4. Professionalism

  5. Leadership and management skills

  6. Responsible conduct of research (RCR)​ - You can find information on RCR at CU Denver/Anschutz here​
Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge, researach skill development, and RCR are a major focus of your daily life in the lab. These other skills, however, are often not directly addressed. As such, the CDO has created a structured career development program​ that will give you opportunities to learn about, develop, and demonstrate your communication, professionalism, leadership and management skills. Keep an eye out for our workshops, and participate frequently to ensure you are on a path to success. 

The CDO offers a centralized location to identify career development training events​ on campus. In addition to attending these events, here are some resources that will help you broaden your professional experience, and help prepare you for the next stage of your career: 

 Understanding the Current Job Market

​Scientists collect and analyze data before coming to a conclusion, right? Well, use that same approach when thinking about your career. Here are some data related to the current job market - read on and make your own conclusions about what's the best path for you:

 Exploring Your Career Options

​The Career Development Office will host seminars related to different career options, so keep an eye out for these opportunities. In the meantime, however, here are a number of articles about some of the things you can do with your career. 
In addition, there are now many different websites devoted to PhD career paths. Here are some helpful FREE websites: 2

 Communication Resources

 Teaching and Mentoring Resources

​Academic careers are not one-size fits all. However, there are aspects of an academic career that are relatively the same: research, teaching, and service. How much you do these activities will vary based on your specific type of academic position, but the resources herein will help you gain experience with the non-research based requirements of a career in academia.

Interested in finding teaching opportunities? Browse opportunities and sign up for automatic email notification of new opportunities at​

​​The Center for Faculty Development (CFD) is a great University resource that offers training and education related to faculty appointments. CFD offers lunch and learns, mini-courses, book clubs, and much, much more! Plus, if you can't make it in-person, you can participate in any of their sessions virtually using Zoom. Contact them if you have any questions, but start taking advantage of this great resource today! 

The University is also a sustaining member of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), which offers ample information and resources related to teaching and mentoring. Become a member for free at​

Additionally, the University is a sustaining member of the Center for Faculty Develoment and Diversity. Joining this organization provides access to a number of resources and training modules for developing your teaching portfolio. You can become a member at​

Teaching Resources:

​​Mentoring Resources: 

    ​​​When you think you're about ready to apply for that faculty position, you might want to check out this presentation on academic faculty applications or read this guidebook for Building Academic Job Applications​.​​​​​​​4

     Mentoring Resources


     Business and Management Resources

    Whether you remain inside or outside of academia, you'll need buisness and managment skills. Running a lab is a lot like running a business: you need to manage people, budgets, and time. If you head for industry, business and managment skills are requisite. Here are some resources to expand your business and management skillset:

    Business Skills:

    Business concepts for biomedical scientists


    Although it may not seem obvious, scientists are natural entrepreneurs. Here are a couple of avenues for you to cultivate your entrepreneurial spirit:

    Management is a key aspect of non-academic careers: you need to manage people, budgets, projects, and your time. Start preparing for these aspects now and make yourself more competitive for positions outside of academia!

     Career Specific Resources

    ​Medical/Science Writing:
    Effective communication is a critical component of successful science. If you find writing one of the more rewarding aspects of your scientific career, you might want to consider it as a stand-alone career. 
    Science Policy:
    Science policy careers offer you an opportunity to apply your scientific expertise and communication skills ​​​​​​​​on behalf of all mankind. Sound intriguing? There are a number of science policy fellowships that can both help you prepare for, and learn more about, science policy careers. If you'd like to learn more, here are a couple of places to start: 

     CDO Workshops and Materials

    Career Skills Workshops:
    Leadership Development Workhops:
    • Strengths Finder:
    • Emotional Intelligence: Presentation.
    • Conflict Management:
      • Training I: Conflict styles handout one and two.
      • Trainig II: Managing emotions handout
      • Training III: Transforming your conversations presentation and handout.
    ​​Workshops will be offered twice a year and will be advertised by email and flyers on campus ~3-weeks prior. You also can find upcoming workshops anytime on the CDO Events Calendar at​

    © The Regents of the University of Colorado, a body corporate. All rights reserved.

    Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. All trademarks are registered property of the University. Used by permission only.