Career and Professional Development

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Career and professional development is an important component of your postdoctoral training. UNC’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) offers a variety of programs, services and resources to help you make the most of your postdoctoral experience. Whether you are just starting out in your postdoc position or moving on to the next phase in your professional career, we can help.

Individual Career Counseling

Confidential, one-on-one career counseling is available to all  UNC postdocs. With individualized career counseling, we can help you:


  • Clarify and define your career goals
  • Research and explore career options
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses
  • Implement a plan for skills development
  • Develop an effective self-marketing campaign, including job search materials (e.g., CV, resume, cover letter, Linkedin profile)
  • Prepare for upcoming interviews (academic and industry and government)

To schedule an appointment, please contact, Dara Wilson-Grant, Associate Director and Career Counselor at 919-843-2340 or email

Career Assessments

OPA offers the following tools to help facilitate your career and professional development.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Created by Science Careers, myIDP helps you explore career possibilities and set goals to follow the career path that fits you best.  Accessed online, myIDP can be used independently or with the assistance of a OPA career counselor. It provides:

  • Exercises to help you examine your skills, interests, and values
  • A list of 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which ones best fit your skills and interests
  • A tool for setting strategic goals for the coming year, with optional reminders to keep you on track
  • Articles and resources to guide you through the process

SkillScan Advance Pack ™

SkillScan can help you identify strengths and transferable skills for use in your career and professional development. The results can help you:

  •  Evaluate the compatibility of your current career
  •  Identify new options that capitalize on your strengths
  •  Identify steps to move your career in the right direction
  •  Gain a rich “skills” language for promoting your strengths in CVs, resumes, cover letters, and interviews

To learn more about these assessments, please contact Dara Wilson-Grant, Associate Director and Career Counselor at 919-843-2340 or

Workshops & Seminars

OPA offers a variety of career-related seminars, panels, and professional development workshops throughout the year. Visit the OPA Calendar for a list of upcoming programs.  Recent programs include:

  • Non-Academic Career Paths
  • Career Options for Scientists
  • Grant Writing Careers
  • Legal Seminar for International Postdocs
  • Professional Etiquette Luncheon
  • Research Portfolios for the Academic Job Market
  • Developing an Independent Research Program

institutional memberships available to postdocs

The Versatile Ph.D.

OPA offers Versatile PhD, a web-based resource for postdocs interested in exploring career opportunities beyond academe.  The site is mainly for Humanities and Social Science Postdocs, but may benefit others as well.  Access this supportive, web-based community by clicking here or copy and paste the following link into your browser – (Requires Onyen registration). The site includes:

  • PhD Career Finder – Provides information about careers in various disciplines.
  • Discussion Forums – Helps you learn from others and get your specific questions answered.
  • Panel Discussions – With PhDs now employed in various fields such as grant writing, management consulting, university administration, and policy analysis.
  • Members Directory – Is searchable and can assist in networking.
  • Meetups – Which occur regularly in many cities across North America.
  • MyVPhD – Lets you manage your account and sign up for email notifications of forum discussions and/or jobs.

National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity

NCFDD is an independent faculty development center dedicated to providing external mentoring, professional development, and a supportive community for advanced graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members across institutions. Visit the website and register as an Institutional Sub-Account Member.  You must use your UNC email address for registration.

  • The Monday Motivator – A weekly message that reinforces core ideas presented in webinars and provides support for individuals making the transition to a faculty position.
  • Webinars – Monthly 60-90 minute Guest Expert professional development sessions.
  • Multi-Week Courses – Intensive workshop series guided by expert facilitators.
  • Discussion Forum – A place for members to connect, share information, peer-mentor, problem solve, and celebrate each others’ success.
  • The Library – A resource that provides transcripts, slides, and audio recordings of past webinars.
  • Career Center – Search job openings, subscribe to new posting notifications in your field, and learn more about the job search process.
  • Resources – Recommended readings, writing clubs, productivity apps, and more.

additional Resources

Professional Organizations and Sites of Interest to Postdocs

This site provides links to job portals, professional associations, networking/mentoring sites, books and handouts to assist with your career planning, professional networking, and job searching.

UNC Postdocs Listserv

Messages are sent out on the listserv to provide information about events pertaining to postdoc career development, which may include seminars, workshops, conferences, internships, and awards.  The listserv also informs postdocs of official university business, UNC postdoctoral policies, upcoming social events, and campus resources for postdocs.  This listserv is only available to current postdoctoral scholars who are affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To subscribe to the listserv, please send an email to with “subscribe to listserv” in the subject line.

Former UNC Postdocs

Do you ever wonder what former UNC postdocs are doing and how they got there? In these transcribed interviews you can read about their career paths, learn about their day-to-day work activities, and discover how they found their current positions.

Careers in Academia

Careers Outside of Academia