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Models of the pd|hub Collection

Foundations of Career Exploration for PhD Scientists

Icons representing Career Exploration: Self-Assessment, Identity Sharing, Career Investigation, Career Fit, Goal Setting

The pd|hub Collection: Foundations of Career Exploration for PhD Scientists features curated, peer-reviewed educational models designed to guide and support PhD-level STEMM graduate students or postdocs as they learn about and evaluate a breadth of career options. These models lay the foundation, empowering participants to navigate the iterative, complex process of career exploration through upcoming and future career transitions.


Three of the models in this pd|hub Collection are structured as a series, akin to a short course, that guide students through phases of career exploration; and two shorter models are structured as sessions/workshops that focus on a core part of career exploration—connecting oneself to one’s career interests. Each model in this pd|hub Collection has been implemented over multiple iterations and is supported by social sciences theories underlying career exploration. Fellows of this pd|hub Collection have refined and annotated the models in recognition of the individuality of identity formation during career exploration processes, and to enhance inclusive facilitation practices.


Graduate students and postdocs pursue a wide variety of career paths–a reality that benefits the advancement of science and technology, and society.  However, training programs have traditionally focused on preparing scientists for academic research, with minimal support for (and even outright discouragement of) exploring the diversity of sectors and roles that scientists pursue. A lack of inclusive support for career development has been linked to the mental health crisis in graduate education and the loss of individuals from historically marginalized groups from science. Calls to action have permeated national and local efforts, but too often educational interventions focus on exposure to career options and do not sufficiently acknowledge and support the complex processes underlying career exploration.

The complexities of career exploration

Career exploration involves navigating a shift in professional identity, a complex developmental process that has been studied for decades in the social sciences. The career exploration process includes iterations of self-assessment and building self-awareness, reflection, information gathering, and trying out tasks. The process involves assessing career options in the context of one’s own lived experiences and intersecting identities. Career exploration is a core component of the process for creating an Individual Development Plan–a practice increasingly integrated into training and mentoring programs across STEM. Educational interventions supporting career exploration should normalize the complexities and iterative nature of the process, provide students and postdocs with contextual support, and empower them to navigate career exploration through future career transitions.




Building awareness of self

Identity Sharing


Identity Sharing:
Presenting oneself to others in a professional context

Career Investigation


Career Investigation:
Researching career options

Career Fit


Career Fit:
Assessing how well a given career path feels in alignment with oneself

Goal Setting


Goal Setting:
Defining steps to further explore or prepare for one's career

How to Access the Models

To attain training, resources, and support for adapting and implementing a model at your organization, apply to become an Implementation Site! Applications are open for the second cohort of Implementation Sites - applications due March 1, 2024.


The pd|hub Collections are being developed with support from an Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH 1 R25 GM139076-01). The information, opinions, data, and statements contained herein are not necessarily those of the U.S. Government or the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and should not be interpreted, acted on, or represented as such.

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Career Exploration Overview