Career and Professional Development Resources

Featured Professional Development Event:

Networking Event: Career Options for STEM PhDs in RTP
Friday, June 3, 2016, 8:30 am to 12:00 pm
NC Biotech Center, 15 TW Alexander Dr, RTP NC
Registration REQUIRED ($10)

Want to build connections with the local biotech/pharma community and learn more about industry careers? Duke graduate students and postdocs are invited to attend a networking event at the North Carolina Biotech Center. Guests will include local bench scientists, business owners, entrepreneurs, consultants, CEOs, venture capitalists, tech transfer specialists, and patent specialists from companies including Affinergy Research, Cell Microsystems, Precision BioSciences, GSK, PPD, Quintiles, Bioventus, United Therapeutics, and many more area organizations.

Please note that registration is REQUIRED for admission. The registration fee of $10 includes a light breakfast.

This event is a networking and career education opportunity, not a job fair. Professional attire is strongly recommended. You do not need to be a confident networker to benefit from this event - the best way to build expertise is to practice!

This event is co-sponsored by Duke Postdoctoral Services, Duke Graduate School, NC Biotech Center, NIEHS Office of Fellows Career Development, Sigma Xi, and the UNC Office of Science, Training and Diversity.

This event is NOT on the Duke campus, but in RTP NC - please do not register unless you are sure you can arrange transportation to the NC Biotech Center!


8:30-9:30 am: Registration and continental breakfast
9:30-10 am:  Keynote Address by Dr. Charles Hamner, DVM, PhD, Chairman and CEO, Hamner Advisory Services, Inc.
10-10:45 am: Career Points of Interest Panel Discussion
10:45 am-12 pm: Networking with Career Professionals
Questions? Contact Melissa Bostrom, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development, at

Resources for Graduate Students

Duke graduate students participate in innovative research that shapes the ever-changing landscapes of biomedical sciences. In addition to promoting research excellence, Duke supports students in their quest to achieve training that leads to unique and meaningful careers after graduation. Forty years ago, most biomedical PhDs became tenured professors; however, the landscape has changed dramatically. Nationwide, over 80% of biomedical PhD graduates create careers outside of the traditional tenure track positions. Here at Duke, we are excited about the expansion in the types of opportunities for scientists to make meaningful contributions to society. As part of this initiative, Duke requires biomedical trainees to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and attend a Career Development Workshop in their third year. Working closely with The Office of Career Services, The Graduate School, and The Duke Alumni Association, OBGE provides and promotes diverse professional development opportunities to position our graduates for a lifetime of professional success, whether it be in laboratory research, science communication, boutique consulting, biotechnology, or beyond.

To get started, take a look below at some of the highlighted resources, or get in touch so we can help you think about how to best take advantage of all that Duke has to offer!

Duke Centers for Guidance and Programming

University Career Center

The Career Center provides opportunities for individuals to explore the intersection of their education, values, goals, skills and experiences in order to identify and realize their aspirations. It's not just for undergrads - our own UPGG alumnus, Dave McDonald, is the STEM graduate student specialist. Dave can offer one-on-one counseling, resource overviews, résumé consultations, interview prep - he can advise you on every step of the way!

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Graduate School Career Resources

Melissa Bostrom and Hugh Crumley are each passionately committed to enriching the professional development training available to Duke graduate students across all disciplines. The Graduate School hosts a diverse series of events and programs designed to broaden your horizons while teaching you personal leadership and self-presentation skills. Only some events are geared directly to STEM PhDs, but almost all events are relevant in some way or another to your development as a scientist and a professional. Be open-minded and creative about how you relate to these offerings.

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Office of Postdoctoral Services

The Office of Postdoctoral Services was established in 2006 to provide a central resource for Duke’s approximately 700 postdoctoral appointees, both on campus and in the School of Medicine.  The Office of Postdoctoral Services (Molly Starback, Director) serves as a liaison between postdocs, faculty, administrators, and staff.  The OPS provides workshops, seminars, and individual career counseling to support postdoctoral training at Duke and prepare postdocs for successful careers, both in academia and beyond.  Partners in professional development training include the Graduate School, Career Center, International House, and the School of Medicine Office for Faculty Development.

While graduate students are not eligible for individual career counseling from the Office of Postdoctoral Services, they are welcome to attend OPS professional development events. Many past events are also available for viewing on the PDA's own YouTube channel!

Sample Career Development Workshops:

  • The Individual Development Plan (IDP)
  • Finding the Right Fit:  Career Exploration and Decision-Making
  • Transferable Skills
  • The Academic Job Search Series (including the Application Process, Interviewing, Job Talks, Teaching Statements, Negotiating, Managing A Lab, Non-Tenure Track Careers in Academia, Non-Faculty Careers in Academia)
  • Careers Beyond Academia Series (including Careers in Biotech, Tech Transfer, Clinical Research, Regulatory Affairs, Big Pharma, Medical/Science Writing, Patent Law, Business/Consulting, Non-Profits)
  • Postdoc NIH F32 Grantsmanship Series (including Intro to the F32, Perspectives from Awardees and Mentors, Effective Written Communication, mentored small groups)
  • Job Hunting in the Biotech Industry
  • Career Choices for PhDs in the Age of Biotech:  How to Decide Which Path is Right for You
  • Improving Spoken English
  • Speaking About Science
  • Networking: A Tool for Exploring Careers and Building Relationships
  • Interviewing Skills
  • How to Avoid Self-Sabotage and Win at Salary Negotiations

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Specific Programs

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

In keeping with the  NIH recommendation for creating IDPs for graduate students, the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education requires that all students who matriculated through PhD programs associated with the School of Medicine complete an Individual Development Plan. The IDP must be completed by June of their 3rd year.  This requirement includes all students who entered through a biomedical program, independent of their source of funding.  Individual programs may require additional or more frequent IDPs.  

The nature of the IDP will be determined by each program for its students with the AAAS IDP used as a guide.  Several programs such as the Medical Scientist Training Program have customized IDPs. 

IDPs are confidential and need not be shared with the student’s thesis advisor, graduate program, or with the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education unless the student voluntarily decides to do so.  They will not be submitted to NIH. 

As part of the IDP, the student will be asked to meet and discuss the IDP with a faculty/administrative mentor, who may or may not be the thesis advisor.  Students may choose more than one mentor.  The degree to which information from the IDP is shared with mentor(s) is up to the student. To augment the IDP, a Career Development Workshop is required of all students in July of the 3rd year.  Registration for the session requires that students 1) verify that they have completed an IDP; 2) provide the name(s) and dates of the advisor/mentor consulted in conjunction with the IDP; and 3) to indicate two or three career interests  which will be explored during the workshop.  The signed registration form validates that an IDP was completed.  Completion of the workshop is recorded by the university registrar and is required for graduation.

(February 2015)

Career Development Workshop (3rd Year)

A half day Career Development Workshop will be required of all third year graduate students who matriculated through a PhD program associated with the School of Medicine.  Students will be asked to complete an Individual Development Plan in the spring semester prior to the course.  The nature of the IDP will be determined by each program for its students with the AAAS IDP used as a guide.  This is in keeping with the  NIH recommendation for creating IDPs for graduate students. During registration for the session, students will be asked to 1) verify that they completed an IDP; 2)  provide the name(s) of the advisor/mentor consulted in conjunction with the IDP; and 3) to indicate two or three career interests determined by their IDP. 

The workshop will include an introductory talk that reviews national and Duke data for career outcomes for biomedical PhDs.  This will be followed by two or three small breakout sessions (8-10 students) with panelists from academia, teaching, biotech, pharmaceutical industry, science writing/editing, regulatory affairs, clinical research/trials, research/academic administration, etc.  Students will be sorted by career interests determined by IDPs in sessions appropriate for their interests. The session will end with lunch during which a speaker from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will discuss the stresses associated with career decisions.

Tracking: The workshop will be combined with a half day Responsible Conduct of Research session.  The event is tracked by the university registrar and recorded on the student’s transcript as a formal four-credit course (GS713).  Students are required to submit an assessment before they receive credit.  Cred for the event is recorded by the university registrar and tracked by the Graduate School as graduation requirement. 

Responsible Conduct of Research Training (1st and 3rd Year)

Academic integrity and research ethics are fundamental to the practice of science.  Duke has created a rigorous and relevant program for its students to train them in the highest standards for conducting research.

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Duke Scholars in Molecular Medicine

The Duke Scholars in Molecular Medicine Program is a 9 month program (September to May) in which PhD candidates and postdoctoral associates who are studying basic sciences gain hands on experience in clinical areas related to their field of research. 

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Preparing Future Faculty

The Duke Graduate School provides a yearlong experience for PhD students and postdocs to prepare them for the multiple roles they may be asked to assume as future faculty members in a variety of academic institutions.  Students who have passed their prelims are eligible to apply. After acceptance, you will be paired with a faculty member in a nearby college or university, where you may gain first-hand experience in lesson planning, lecturing, engaging in faculty meetings, and more.

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