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Development plans help increase graduate student confidence

A team from the Faculty of Arts and Science, Career Services, Student Academic Success Services, the Centre for Teaching and Learning, and the School of Graduate Studies has completed a pilot program that brings Individual Development Plan (IDP) tools to graduate students.

“Participants in the pilot said the IDP improved their confidence in their employability following graduation, as well as helped to clarify their career options,” says Sharon Regan, Associate Dean (Graduate Students and Global Engagement) and Project Sponsor. “Students reported being motivated to seek out new and different opportunities and they also said they gained some perspective on their own skillsets and better understand what employers want and value.”

Supporting the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Strategic Plan's Initiative No. 50: Explore opportunities for developing Individual Development Plans for graduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science, the content of the IDP is intended to provide direction, support, and tools to help graduate students:

  • set flexible career goals that align with their values, skills and interests, with awareness of job-market options and realities
  • identify skill strengths and gaps and make plans to build additional learning experiences into their graduate education
  • complete their degree and successfully transition to the next stage of their career.

“The IDP was a very beneficial addition to my coursework – particularly in the case of being a first-year PhD student,” says Spencer Huesken, a PhD student  in Sociology. “The obstacles this year both regarding COVID-19 and the general expectations of the program produced a lot of uncertainty. This was the main strength of the IDP for me – it allowed me to be self-reflective while ‘zooming out’ on my own interests, passions, and how to incorporate them holistically into the scope of my PhD work.”

The pilot program ran within the Faculty of Arts and Science from September 2019 until July 2020. Once completed, the findings of the program were handed off to the School of Graduate Studies to inform an institution-wide roll-out scheduled for Sept. 1, 2021.

“The information gathered during the pilot phase will be used to develop the addition of a graduate IDP as a permanent program and to support the broader Queen’s strategy by providing a scalable model and pilot data,” says Cathy Keates, Director of Career and Experiential Learning.

For more information visit the Individual Development Plan webpage.