Skip to main content

For information related to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit: grad.illinois.edu/covid-19-updates.

Postdoctoral Professional Development

In your professional career, you will have many responsibilities, perhaps including writing journal articles and grants, managing other researchers, giving public presentations, and teaching and mentoring students..

Creating a plan for your postdoc can help you maximize your time and prepare for your future career. The following resources can help you develop in your selected areas.

Writing and Publishing

Writing in a clear, precise way is important for preparing journal articles and grant proposals. The Writers Workshop at Illinois works with students, postdocs, and faculty through individual writing consultations. It is important to learn the specific writing style of your discipline and the expectations of the particular type of writing. Other resources include:

  • Day, Robert A.,Gastel, Barbara. How To Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2006.
  • Katz, Michael Jay. From Research to Manuscript: A Guide to Scientific Writing. Dordrecht : Springer, 2009.
  • Zeiger, Mimi. Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers. New York : McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division, 2000.
  • Budgell, Brian Stephen. Writing a Biomedical Research Paper: A Guide to Structure and Style. Tokyo : Springer, 2009.

Public Speaking and Presentations

Speaking publicly about your research is a skill to refine and develop throughout your career. Look for opportunities to practice your presentation skills in lab meetings or departmental seminars. Ask for feedback on the effectiveness of your presentation from trusted colleagues. When listening to talented presenters, think about what you could learn from their approach.

Teaching

If you plan to pursue a faculty career, teaching will likely be a significant component to your job. Teaching experience and written teaching philosophy statements may be used to evaluate job applicants. While many postdoctoral positions are focused on research and provide fewer opportunities to develop teaching skills, you can explore different options to continue your teaching development.

  • The Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL) offers teaching certificates, workshops and events that are open to postdocs. If you are interested in pursuing a certificate, the Certificate in Foundations of Teaching is a good choice for many postdocs.
  • Learn about pedagogical approaches in your field through conversations with faculty and perhaps arrange to observe one of their class sessions.
  • Explore and initiate opportunities to practice your teaching, including presenting guest lectures or workshops. Ask for feedback on your teaching to help you improve.
  • Bain, Ken. What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Mentoring

Mentoring students includes a range of skills, including setting appropriate expectations, addressing issues when they occur and communicating effectively. The following guides can help you learn approaches to mentoring students in settings from the laboratory to the classroom.

Business Cards

When attending conferences or meeting others in your field, providing a business card is a courteous, professional way to share your contact information. Learn more about ordering University of Illinois business cards.

Lab Management

For many postdocs, the next phase of your career will include starting and managing a laboratory. In addition to directing the research, this can include selecting and managing lab personnel, mentoring researchers in your lab, developing budgets and obtaining grant funding.

The following guides provide insights into some of these topics and ideas about how to develop skills in these areas: