Posted: October 31, 2017

The Impact of A Developmental Approach to Professional Training (ADAPT) on Postdoc Employment Outcomes at the University of Pittsburgh


Postdocs frequently do not think about transitioning to their next career stage until they are approaching the end of their postdoctoral training. Career development is considered to be synonymous with job search activities; it is of low priority early in one’s postdoctoral training when facing the demands of a new position, possibly in a new institution, or even in a new country. Postdocs who are committed to pursuing faculty positions commonly dismiss career development since it is generally associated with the exploration of career options aside from an academic career. In 2014, to counter the underutilization of career development resources by our postdoctoral community, we implemented A Developmental Approach to Professional Training (ADAPT) that allows postdocs to align their professional development strategies with their corresponding stage of training – from start to finish. The ADAPT model has five stages: 1) Orientation - Understanding the impact that early career development planning has upon ultimate career success and satisfaction; 2) Foundations - Discovering professional strengths and personal motivations that will lead to more focused career exploration strategies and more fulfilling career outcomes; 3) Learning Communities - Identifying and developing transferable skills and growing a network of professional relationships; 4) Career-Specific - Engaging in experiences that will provide a competitive advantage relative to career goals; and 5) Career Transition - Equipping trainees with the appropriate knowledge, resources, and job search strategies that will open the right doors. Since implementing this unique framework, 37% of our postdocs who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents acquired faculty positions; an additional 42% stayed in academia. The number of our postdocs acquiring faculty positions or staying in academia is well above national data. Early indications lead us to believe that the ADAPT model provides our postdoctoral trainees a competitive advantage both within and outside of academia.


Career Development Model


Darlene F. Zellers, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Tammy L. Dennis, University of Pittsburgh

Rachel M. Latsko, University of Pittsburgh