Academic - Career Development Path

The objective of this path is to prepare for a career as a faculty member who makes innovative contributions to discovery and learning. Faculty positions can range from large R1 research-intensive institutions to smaller teaching-focused institutions and the types of preparation for each of these will have some unique components. However, this document is intended to guide a (doctoral) student or postdoctoral fellow in the general steps of exploration and preparation needed for this career path. Students in this path will learn about the wide variety of possible career paths, useful skills, networking opportunities, and placement resources available through the Weldon School.

Plan to explore all areas of discovery (research), learning (teaching), and engagement (outreach) while using the following stages and steps:

Career Development (understanding career options, self-reflections, making use of Individual Development Plans (IDP), networking and job search skills)

  • Complete an initial individual strengths and interests assessment
  • Establish an Individual Development Plan (IDP) – based on strengths, skills, and interest assessment
  • Identify several potential academic research conferences in your area of interest and work with faculty advisor to make a plan / timeline to attend and explore various aspects of the conference
  • Attend academic seminars in BME and at least one (or two) additional departments related to research/teaching interests
  • Attend networking lunches with academic seminar speakers to learn about career paths in regards to what you should be doing now, what the hiring process is like at their institution, the most rewarding aspect of their faculty position and what their career path looked like (e.g. post doc or not)

Professional Development Skills(teambuilding, time management, oral and written communication, networking, leadership training, and cognitive assessment of leadership, conflict and negotiation skills)

  • Review IDP / Skills Assessment for area to focus development activities and leadership training
  • Participate in TA training and find opportunities to assist faculty with course/curriculum development
    • Look for teaching fellowships in the last couple of years of your program to allow you the opportunity to hone your skills
  • Complete CITI training in Responsible Conduct of Research – work with mentors to identify multiple areas for training
  • Enroll in a course or attend a workshop to help learn to write/prepare and submit a proposal for pre-doctoral research fellowship (e.g. NSF Graduate Research)
  • Complete additional coursework (1-4 courses) that expand the breadth of technical expertise
  • Complete at least one CLA course and regularly read the literature (several key journals in your area)
  • Participate in Summer seminar to improve scientific presentation skill / invite and incorporate faculty, mentor, and peer feedback
  • Contribute to successful grant proposal writing of faculty advisors / attend grant writing workshops
  • Submit multiple first-authored papers for publication in top-tier academic research journals
  • Submit at least one teaching-related paper or poster for presentation at a national conference
  • Participate in Teacher Certification workshops and trainings (University)
  • Attend local and national workshops on preparing future faculty
  • Learn accreditation basics
  • Establish a web presence through LinkedIn, personal web pages and possibly blogs.
  • Find ways to collaborate outside of your home department
  • Join a committee to get the feel of what committee work is like
  • Seek out opportunities to learn more about personnel management (ie. Conflict management, budget management etc.)
  • Apply for workshop where top graduate students get picked
  • Be up to date on teaching trends and pedagogy


Experiential Learning (brief intensive experiences with partners either inside or outside of the University.  Seminar Series, Entrepreneurial workshops)

  • Travel to at least 4 academic conferences during years 2-4 of doctoral training to present your research, connect with potential opportunities for post-doctoral fellowship training, and identify leaders in the field.
  • Secure several travel grants – internal and external to Purdue – and attempt to win paper awards
  • Present at several potential universities and consult with faculty there about their school
  • Consider pursuing a research experience abroad or collaborating with an international partner


  • Meet with multiple faculty members (in BME and related departments) and discuss skills and career interests to help identify potential mentors in each of the three areas above
  • Find ways to mentor others either in your lab, K-12 Outreach or other programs

Placement Assistance

  • Consult with faculty mentors to identify top-level research labs for potential post-doc position
  • Consult with faculty mentors and the Graduate Programs Office for review of CV
  • Utilize the placement services of national societies through their conferences and online searching
  • Continue to consult faculty advisor and mentors (even after securing post-doc) to assist with securing a faculty placement at the most appropriate institution for you

Career Resources