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The Postdoctoral Experience at NC State University: Realizing Your Potential

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) strives to enhance, support and promote the postdoctoral experience at NC State University. In doing so, OPA hopes postdocs will realize their potential during their tenure at this university and utilize their postdoctoral appointment as a way to foster their independence as scientists, scholars and researchers. Following are ways in which OPA encourages postdocs to more fully develop their skills, goals and self-awareness during their postdoctoral assignment.

Individual Development Plan

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) provide a way in which postdocs can identify their career goals and professional development needs. Postdocs can also use their IDPs as a communication tool with their mentors which, in turn, will enhance the mentoring process. Postdocs are encouraged to look at the professional development opportunities (see below) offered through OPA and The Graduate School and add these to their IDPs so as to meet their professional development goals. Keep in mind that the IDP is a way to structure and monitor the goals that can lead the postdoc to an independent and rewarding career.


In order to critically plan out career goals, postdocs may want to gain some awareness about their own strengths and weaknesses. There are a number of free self-assessments on the Internet postdocs may find helpful:

Professional Development Opportunities

OPA provides professional development programs throughout the academic year – at no charge. The Graduate School, in which OPA is housed, also offers free professional development programs to graduate students and postdocs. Postdocs are encouraged to take advantage of these professional development opportunities - and add the ones they attend to their CVs! In addition, postdocs may also include any of the professional development seminars in their Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

Resources for Postdocs

Postdocs are encouraged to utilize the resources available to them through the National Postdoctoral Association. The National Postdoctoral Association is a professional association that provides a unique, national voice for postdoctoral scholars. The NPA was founded in 2003, with an ambitious agenda to enhance the quality of the postdoctoral experience.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, offers opportunities for postdocs to engage with other scientists through their programs and their magazine, American Scientist. This organization is located in the Research Triangle Park and provides a wide array of resources to scientists and researchers.

The Current State of the Postdoc Experience provides information and advice for people who are either looking to obtain or who have recently started a postdoctoral appointment.

Interested in learning how to effectively manage a lab? It does take business skills, and this free online magazine, Lab Manager: Run Your Lab Like A Business, is a good resource for postdocs who want to have successful research careers.

Exit Survey

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) is interested in obtaining feedback from postdoctoral scholars before they leave the university.  OPA uses this information to improve services offered to postdocs as well as track the employment trends postdocs encounter once they leave their postdoctoral assignment.  The exit survey ( should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.  All responses to this survey will be kept confidential.  Thank you for your participation and for helping OPA enhance its offering to current and future postdocs!