Our Career Development Framework

Why did OCPD design a career and professional framework for biomedical trainees?
Visual of OCPD career development model


The OCPD has designed a  career and professional development framework tailored for students and postdocs, with underpins all of the Office's programs, resources and services.

Based in career development theory, the framework identifies four stages of development: 1) self assessment, 2) career exploration and decision making, 3) internship, job, postdoc, residency or fellow search, and 4) professional success skills. Additionally, the framework identifies corresponding professional competencies.

 This framework is intended as a tool to orient trainees to the concept of career development by categorizing specific professional skills or knowledge areas commonly required for graduate, professional and post graduate trainees to effectively navigate each stage, and by giving them the vocabulary to articulate short and long term goals.

 What are the four career and professional development stages?

1. Self Assessment

  • Students and postdocs at this stage are interested in exploring their values, their interests, their skills and their personality.
  • When they have developed competencies in this stage, they are able to articulate what is meaningful to them, the activities and tasks they find rewarding, their current strengths and their growth areas, and how their preferences influence work behavior.
  • This insight is valuable as they develop skills in other career stages; explore career options that are a good fit for them, interview effectively, and develop their professional identity and professional brand.

2. Career Exploration and Decision Making

  • At this stage, students and postdocs are interested in learning more about career options for individuals with their interests, skills and training.
  • Career exploration includes both the ability to identify and research potential career paths, and to thoroughly investigate specific positions. It also includes the ability to network to explore careers, meet individuals in their professional communities, conduct informational interviews, and maintain professional relationships.
  • Effective career decision making is the ability to make a free and informed decision, where they're aware of the internal and external factors affecting their decision, know their options, and have an understanding of their decision making style. The knowledge and skills gained in this stage increases a student's or postdoc's confidence that they've chosen not just the right field (the sciences, nursing, pharmacy, etc), but the career path and particular types of positions that are right for them as well.

3. Internship, Job, Postdoc, Residency and Fellowship Search

  • In this stage, students and postdocs would like to develop their abilities to position and present themselves successfully for any opportunity.
  • When they've mastered this stage, they understand how to use their time at UCSF effectively to develop the skills, experience and relationships to be competitive for positions of their choice. Additionally, they also know how to organize a search for any opportunity (internship, job, postdoc, residency or fellowship), write persuasive application materials, interview successfully, evaluate and negotiate a compensation office, and accept or decline an offer professionally.

4. Professional Success Skills (career management)

  • In this stage, students and postdoc develop the ability and skills required to excel in their field of choice.
  • Specifically, this includes the skills required to successfully transition into a new position, such as how to establish oneself in a position in the first 6 months; how to determine, meet and exceed work expectations; and how to assess a supervisor's work style (e.g., management, communication and conflict management styles).
  • This stage also includes the ability to communicate effectively in different mediums (oral, written, visual communication, etc.),  grantsmanship, dynamic presentations, articulate one's professional identity and brand, establish and manage professional relationships, lead a team and supervise others, and mentor and be mentored successfully.
  • The final skill development in this stage is the ability to articulate a personal definition of what it means to have work/life integration.