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Phase 3: Preparing to leave and leaving

Prepare to transition to your next professional role.

The goal of this phase it to wrap up your work and to turn your attention to interviews and making decisions about next steps. It is a time to look carefully at possible publications and to talk about them with your PI or daily supervisor.

Use support and resources

It is a time of transition, and transitions bring stress. Be sure that you have a strong support system in place as you navigate interviews and wait for important news. Use OITE well-being resources as you navigate this important time in your career.

Your tasks for this phase

  • The focus of this phase is on applications, interviews and career-decision making. OITE career and educational advisors are available to support you through the process.
  • Peer support is especially important at this time. While you might be busier with applications and interviews, maintain contact with your peers through affinity groups, and various trainee and fellows committees.
  • It is important to set healthy boundaries so that you have time for your school or job search. Seek support from your IC training director or OITE staff, career, educational and well-being advisors as you discuss these issues with your PI and daily supervisors.
  • We hope that your search for educational, postdoc, or job opportunities was a success.

Core competencies

Career readiness

This is the time to finalize your career plans and to review your application materials with a career or educational advisors. Consider participating in job and application working groups to add structure, get support, and learn from peers.


Further enhance your communication skills by presenting NIH poster days, and at conferences. Make sure to focus on completing your manuscripts and participate in the FAES writing course.

Leadership and management

Graduate students and postdocs should consider participating in the Management Short Course to further develop leadership and management skills.

Thoughts specific for trainee groups

If you are a:

Postbac. We hope that you are busy interviewing and appreciate how much time it takes to prepare, visit schools (even virtually), and to make decisions. This is a good time to minimize distractions and to talk with your PI or daily supervisor about balancing your responsibilities to your group with your busy schedule. If you have decided not to apply to schools at this time, be sure that you are meeting with an OITE career counselor so you have support through your job search.

Graduate Student. Communicate with your university and be sure you fully understand the requirements for completing your PhD. You should consider whether you are interested in a postdoc and what type of postdoc would benefit you most, and then begin applying with support from your research mentors and OITE career counselors. If you are not considering a postdoc, be sure to connect with an OITE career counselor to begin a job search. We hope that you will join us for the NIH annual graduation ceremony if the timing is right. You can register to receive your graduate certificate: GPP Award Certificate.

Postdocs. Join OITE job groups for peer support and accountability through your job search. Also be sure that you are meeting with an OITE career counselor throughout this process. Depending on your next step, you may need to talk with your PI about projects and arrange to take copies of your research records. You may also need to talk with extramural grant managers to learn how to activate your external grant awards.

We hope you had a fulfilling experience at NIH and that you grew as a scientist, professional, and person. We wish you the best and look forward to hearing from you.


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