Professional Development

When you participate in professional development, you build skills needed to succeed academically and thrive in your career.

Start here: DiscoverPD

DiscoverPD helps master’s and doctoral students at UW–Madison advance their academic and professional goals.

  • You’ll read more about the facets of professional development.
  • Our 5-minute self-assessment provides you a report of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • You’ll explore customized recommendations within each facet, and add these to your Individual Development Plan.

Behind DiscoverPD is a curated database of professional development activities on campus and beyond.  Your recommendations will draw from this database, or you’ll have the option to search the database if you know what you’re looking for.

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Watch the 3-minute video.

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Inquiry, discovery, and creation
Disciplinary expertise and interdisciplinary connections
Career development
Managing projects and people
Diversity and inclusion
Personal and interpersonal effectiveness

Individual Development Plan

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) helps you reflect, plan, and discuss in order to achieve your academic and professional goals.

What is the IDP?

It’s a process in which you will:

  • assess your skills, interests, and strengths;
  • define a written plan for developing skills; and
  • communicate with your mentor(s).

The product of this process will be a written, ever-evolving IDP document.

You’ll revisit your IDP at least once per year, to update and refine as goals change or come into focus, and to record progress and accomplishments.

How it works:

To create your IDP, you can start with one of the IDP resources listed below, or attend an IDP workshop hosted by the Graduate School.  Your graduate program coordinator or faculty mentor may also be able to help you get started.


UW–Madison IDP policy:

IDPs are required for graduate students and postdocs with NIH funding, and recommended for all graduate students and postdocs regardless of funding source.

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Professional Development Programming

Each semester the Graduate School, together with campus partners, hosts nearly 400 professional development events, which can be found through DiscoverPD and our events calendar.

Career Exploration

Career advising for graduate students is usually offered within your school/college, department, or program, supplemented by career exploration programming offered through the Graduate School.

Marcela Guerrero

Alumni career profiles

  • Marcela Guerrero

    Assistant Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Guerrero received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, and holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

  • Jared Knowles

    President, Civilytics Consulting LLC
    Jared Knowles founded Civilytics Consulting, LLC, in 2016 to pursue his passion of providing high-quality public performance metrics for government services. Knowles completed his political science PhD in 2015 at UW–Madison, where he was also a fellow in the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Education Sciences.

  • Sasānēhsaeh Pyawasay

    Native American Student Success Coordinator, University of Wisconsin System
    Sasānēhsaeh Pyawasay is an enrolled member of the Menominee Nation from the Menominee Indian Reservation of Wisconsin. She attended UW–Madison as an undergraduate majoring in Sociology and American Indian Studies and continued to earn a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) in 2009.

  • More alumni career profiles and employment sectors

ImaginePhD logo

ImaginePhD is a free online career exploration and planning tool for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences.

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myIDP logo

myIDP is a web-based career planning tool, hosted by the AAAS, tailored to meet the needs of graduate students and postdocs in the sciences.

Start exploring careers >>