Career & Professional Development

Accelerate Your CAREER.

The Jackson Laboratory's Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Programs offer professional development courses and workshops as well as individualized programs to help you achieve your goals. Download our free career exploration and planning booklet here.

The Whole Scientist course

Our signature The Whole Scientist course is available to Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scientists at JAX as well as to guests from other institutions. Individuals seeking careers as researchers – in academia, industry, biotech, or government – in addition to those with scientific ambitions away from the bench will gain valuable training in areas such as leadership, management, communication, and mentoring.  This week-long residential program is held on the JAX campus in Bar Harbor, Maine and consists of a series of seminars and workshops led by JAX faculty and invited experts, guides trainees in developing the skills needed to advance to the next stage of  their careers. Following the course, participants engage in a series of stand-alone practicums which delve deeper into specific topics and help to further build their professional networks. Participants also benefit from the development of supportive and collegial peer relationships that extends well beyond the duration of the course. Generous scholarships are available to offset registration and travel costs for PhD students and postdoctoral scientists outside of JAX. Learn more about The Whole Scientist and register to attend.

The Whole Scientist workshop series

Throughout the year, we offer The Whole Scientist one- or two-day workshops that take place at institutions across the United States. These workshops provide an overview of the professional skills necessary for success in a broad range of careers and focus on topics of particular relevance to each audience. The Whole Scientist workshop series is designed to help students and postdoctoral scientists from outside of JAX develop skills in leadership, management, communication, or mentoring while learning about exciting career possibilities. Find a workshop near you.

Science Forum

Science Forum provides an opportunity for Ph.D. students and postdoctoral associates at The Jackson Laboratory to explore professional development topics in depth and practice relevant skills. In these monthly seminars and workshops, JAX trainees develop leadership, management, communication, and mentoring skills. The specific topic changes each month, ranging from lab budgets and grant reviewing to work-life balance and diversity. Speakers include JAX faculty, staff and invited experts.

Career Forum

Career Forum is a monthly roundtable discussion of careers applicable to science Ph.D.s. In Career Forum, JAX Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows have the opportunity to learn about a variety of science related careers in an interactive and informal setting. The usual format involves a panel of two or three individuals who present their career paths and answer questions about their current positions, including likes and dislikes, required skill sets, and ways to transition into the job. Speakers include professionals from within JAX as well as invited guests.


All Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scientists at JAX benefit from research training and mentorship from our award-winning faculty. Ph.D. students receive additional guidance from their thesis committees, comprising faculty members from both JAX and the cooperative university partner. Postdoctoral researchers at JAX are supported by our Training Committee, which keeps up with each individual's progress and advises on appropriate professional development opportunities. Our trainees are mentored and guided both in their research and their professional careers, to help ensure their success and a fulfilling and productive training experience at JAX.

Individual Development Plans at JAX

As a key component of training, Ph.D. students and postdoctoral associates at JAX formulate an individual development plan (IDP) within their first year. With help from the Pre- and Postdoctoral Program Directors, our trainees assess their skills, interests, personal priorities, and values to make informed decisions about possible scientific career paths.  Using these assessments, our Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scientists define clear, concise, goals and deadlines with respect to their progress towards those career paths, and identify strategies to fulfill their career ambitions. Following development of their IDP, trainees are encouraged to discuss their IDP with their mentor, the Pre- and Postdoctoral Program Director at their JAX campus, and their faculty liaison or thesis committee. The IDP is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis as goals are met and new priorities established.

JAX Postdoctoral Association & JAX Graduate Student Organization

Trainees can join their fellow postdocs and students at JAX in the JAX Postdoctoral Association (JPA) or JAX Graduate Student Organization (JGSO). The JPA and JGSO represent postdocs and students to JAX's leadership and on institutional committees, ensuring that trainees have a voice at the institutional level. The JPA and JGSO each host monthly gatherings for all JAX postdoctoral associates and Ph.D. students to identify issues relevant to these communities and to encourage interaction and collaboration.  The JPA and JGSO organize seminars or other workshops of interest to the postdoc and graduate student communities, as well as social events.

Individual Career Advising

Individual career guidance is available to all JAX Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. JAX trainees can schedule individual consultations with the Pre- and Postdoctoral Program Director on their campus to discuss their goals and develop a personalized plan.