The purpose of a self-assessment is simple - know thyself.
The first step in the career planning process is to discover what about yourself - specifically your skills, interests, and values - leads to your greatest career satisfaction. Only by assessing yourself can you narrow your career options, and then articulate your strengths and expectations in job applications and interviews.
Undoubtedly, through your graduate and postdoctoral work, you possess a great number of skills. While important, your skills are not limited to the technical skills required when sitting at a lab bench. Your entire skill set includes soft skills, such as mentoring, leadership, persistence, and time management. An assessment of your skills allows you to identify your strong skills, your skills that require development, and the skills that you enjoy doing.
Your professional interests, those you enjoy doing frequently, weigh heavily on your career satisfaction. Your research interests may determine your field of study, whereas your activity interests may determine the direction you take in that field. For example, for two postdocs interested in diabetes research, a strong interest in writing manuscripts and grants may lead the first postdoc to an academic faculty position, whereas a strong interest in designing assays and diagnostic technologies may lead the second postdoc to a position in a medical device company. Determining your interests will allow you to identify careers paths that satisfy you.
Like interests, your values, or the principles by which you live, strongly influence your career path. When assessing your values, ask yourself:
What is important to me?
What rewards do I want from my work?
What keeps me motivated?
In other words, your career values are the aspects of your work experience and environment that determine your satisfaction. Identifying what you care about will allow you to identify careers that match your values.
Individual career advising appointments
To assist with your self-assessment needs, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs offers individual career advising appointments to all postdocs. To schedule an appointment, please refer to the Individual Career Advising page.
Individual development plans
Evidence indicates that postdocs who write defined career goals and plans report increased career satisfaction, better interactions with mentors, and improved productivity compared to those postdocs who do not. To map your career and start setting goals, visit the Individual Development Plan page.
Courses and workshops
Many departments across OHSU, including the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, conduct numerous courses and workshops throughout the year dedicated to self-assessment. Stay tuned to the Postdoc Newsletter and the Postdoc Teams Group for announcements about these resources!