American Society of Hematology

Career-Development Timeline for PhD Students (Continuous Priorities)

While every person's career path clearly requires an individualized plan for true success, based on insight from hematology leadership and fellows, the ASH Trainee Council has created a generalized framework to help guide those in the PhD training track for a career in hematology.

Continuous Priorities  |  Early Predoctoral (Year 1-2) Training  |  Late Doctoral (Year 3-5) Training  |  Postdoctoral Training 

Throughout your career it is critical to keep up-to-date and on track. The following tips should help guide you at any stage of your career.

  1. Schedule formal meetings with your PI.
  2. Prepare for these meetings. Bring a list of ideas, questions and experimental problems to review. These meetings are great way to develop a rapport with your advisor and keep you motivated. If your PI is not available weekly, be sure to carefully plan and prepare for whatever meeting time you have to get the most out of it.

  3. Attend a weekly seminar series and/or journal club at your institution to help keep you up-to-date.
  4. Especially attend seminars that are outside of your area of expertise; view these as opportunities to familiarize yourself with general topics as well as increase your specific knowledge. The journal club setting is particularly useful to help learn experimental design, data critique, and analyses.

  5. Strive for independence, while maintaining productivity. Be the driver of your research project and career: learn to independently design experiments, perform experiments, analyse/interpret data, and write scientific papers. Establish collaboration inside the lab, within the department and University.
  6. By the time you enter the "real" job market (whether in academics, or industry, government) you should have the skills to perform independently and with confidence. However, never be afraid to ask for help when you need it and utilize the expertise of those around you.

  7. Attend and present (poster or oral presentation) at least one national or international research meeting per year, particularly the ASH annual meeting.
  8. While attending a meeting takes time away from your research, the networking opportunities and advice you receive is invaluable. Utilize your peers at other institutions to network and facilitate networking for them through your connections. Join groups or apply for training programs. These will enhance your training as well as allow for additional mentoring and networking.

  9. Apply to available studentships and awards; sign up early for "scientific writing" courses.
  10. In general a PhD student or postdoc is most competitive for awards in years 2-4. Be aware that most all fellowships have training year cut-off limitations.

  11. Form a supervisory committee (thesis committee) and choose them wisely; depending on your departments guidelines choose at least two supervisory committee members (one within and the other outside the department) excluding your supervisor.
  12. Schedule formal meetings with your supervisory committee one to two times per year and discuss your plans and progress. Your committee is a part of your training not only to be unbiased in testing your knowledge but also to facilitate the development of your project and scientific intellect. Utilize your committee member’s knowledge, contacts, and potential collaborations rather than only interacting with them during scheduled committee meetings.

Additional Resources

  • The Individual Development Plan (IDP) concept is commonly used in industry to help employees define and pursue their career goals. My IDP is a unique, web-based career-planning tool tailored to meet the needs of PhD students and postdocs in the sciences.  For more information visit: 

Continuous Priorities  |  Early Predoctoral (Year 1-2) Training  |  Late Doctoral (Year 3-5) Training  |  Postdoctoral Training

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