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Foundations of Career Planning Program

How do I get started on the job search path? How can I make my resumé/CV stand out from the rest? How do I negotiate a salary? How can I make meaningful connections with people who I’d like to work with?

Transitioning from a postdoctoral fellowship to a post-fellowship career can be daunting. In a competitive job market, it is vital to cultivate your brand and develop a strong professional portfolio in order to move into the professional workforce. However, in order to take these next steps, it is critical to have a clear vision of where you want to go and where your skills, strengths and values lie.

The Postdoctoral Fellows Office is pleased to offer Foundations of Career Planning, a three-part workshop program designed to introduce postdocs to the support and resources required to establish the foundations of a post-PDF career, whether in academia or in industry. Preparing for the next career move is an opportunity to clarify and even re-evaluate key aspects of career planning. The Foundations program begins with an interactive session on career exploration in which participants through self-reflection will be encouraged to discover their strengths, values and what motivates them. Once they have developed a vision of their desired career path(s), participants are introduced to tools and strategies for transitioning to the next phase of their careers, including developing a professional portfolio and navigating the interview and negotiation process. The goal of the program is to enable postdocs to identify and update their strengths, skills and values, and to encourage the development of a solid professional portfolio; this will support postdocs in identifying transferrable skills that are applicable to multiple careers in a lifetime, within or outside of the academe.

This program is designed for postdocs in the early stages of their career development journey. This journey will test your creativity and your sense of exploration as you reflect and be open to the world of possibilities.

Registration in the Foundations program is required, and all participants must be able to attend all sessions in full in order to be eligible to participate. Some pre-work will be required in advance of each session.

Program Sessions


Session #1: Starting With You: Clarifying Your Key Strengths, Values and Skills and your Personalized Development Framework

As a Postdoctoral fellow, you have already been making some key career decisions, and yet this transitional role also calls on you to explore options that meet your unique requirements for what makes a career worthwhile. Take the time to prepare for what is next in your career by updating and clarifying who you are and what you want.  During this one day program you will have the opportunity to learn with colleagues as you:

  • Explore a framework for self-guided career exploration.
  • Understand the qualities of your top 5 strengths (as identified in the completion of a StrengthsFinder assessment)
  • Understand how you can leverage your strengths to  build your career
  • Clarify work values influencing career choices
  • Identify Transferable Skills that engage your sense of purpose
  • Complete an Action plan that promotes further exploration and action

During this interactive program, through small group exercises, video presentation, and large group discussion, you will have the opportunity to clarify and update key and practical elements to support you and your next career move. The completion of a CliftonStrengths assessment is required in advance of the workshop, and additional information will be provided upon acceptance to the pilot program.


Pre-work is required for this session, and will be distributed by the PDFO in advance of the workshop date.


Sally Halliday, Registered Clinical Counsellor

Sally Halliday

Sally is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who holds an MA in Counselling Psychology and additional training in Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Organizational coaching, and career development. She brings her passion for teaching into curriculum development and group facilitation for various audiences and a range of topics including emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication skills in the workplace, group dynamics, and personality assessments. As a former program leader at UBC Continuing Studies, Sally worked collaboratively in the development and delivery of such programs as the UBC Certificate in Organizational Coaching and the UBC Certificate in Peer Counselling.

Maura Da Cruz, Organizational Development and Learning Consultant

Maura Da Cruz

Maura Da Cruz brings extensive experience to her work in organizational development, program design, and leadership development as a Learning Consultant and Certified Coach at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She has successfully facilitated leadership, team effectiveness, strategic planning, and diversity related programs for a wide spectrum of workgroups ranging from managers, leaders in formal and informal positions and front-line staff. Maura is passionate about helping individuals identify their strengths and amplify them so that they can be their best in their work, at home and in their communities. Maura has a background in adult education, holds an MA in Educational Leadership (SDSU) and is an IAC (International Association of Coaches) Master Certified Coach.

Session #2: Self-Branding and Compiling Professional Work Search Documents

Compiling professional work search documents is an essential step in your career journey; however, effectively communicating your expertise and value to potential employers can be a difficult task, even for the most seasoned writers. This workshop will introduce broad self-branding strategies that would be applicable to both industry and academia, and will reinforce the need for clear, concise, and consistent messaging, style, and tone across work search documents. Participants will leave equipped to customize a wide variety of documents including CVs, resumes, cover letters, professional profiles, bios, and content for multiple online platforms. Participants will apply a career pathway approach to identifying relevant positions, analyzing job advertisements, and targeting work search documents.

This interactive session mixes small group activities with content delivery to provide participants with practical, hands-on experience in creating work-search documents. Participants are asked to come prepared with their current resume and/or CV, bios, profiles, or any other work search documents they would like to review. Please also bring or bookmark at least one specific job description or posting of interest.

Pre-work requirements: Search online for 1-2 samples of resumes and/or CVs, identifying what appeals to you and what doesn’t. Gather your existing resumes or CVs so that you’ll have all that you need to create a “master” resume. Please create one Word document with your existing bios and/or profiles. Identify at least one job description, posting, or advertisement that interests you – even if you aren’t in a position to apply for that position at the moment, it will give you some concrete information to help with targeting your work search documents. Come to the session with 2-3 specific questions or areas to focus on.


Dr. Roberta Neault, President, Life Strategies Ltd.

Dr. Roberta Neault

Dr. Roberta Neault, CCC, GCDF-i, CCDP, is an award-winning leader in the career development sector, in Canada and internationally. She is a published author and international speaker on topics related to career management. Roberta's academic career has involved contract work at 10 universities across Canada, the US, and Asia, including serving as Associate Dean from 2013 – 2017 for a university in New Brunswick while running her BC-based consulting company. Roberta currently is an adjunct professor at UBC, a project director for the Canadian Career Development Foundation in Ottawa, and president of Life Strategies Ltd. Her extensive experience supporting graduate students, postdocs, managers, executive leaders, and professionals brings a unique perspective to crafting professional work search documents.

Session #3: The Best Candidate Wins: Interview to Job Negotiation Strategies

The Best Candidate Wins: Interview to Job Negotiation Strategies is suited for postdoctoral fellows who are seeking to further their careers in business or industry. The principles and practices can also be applied to academia. 

The Best Candidate Wins is a highly experiential workshop that will build your confidence and help you to:

  • Strategize on ways to get your foot in the door and deliver your pitch or get an interview
  • Practice pitching the value you provide to a potential “employer” in a telephone screening call and informal in-person setting;
  • Prepare for and successfully respond to questions in a simulated interview; and
  • Negotiate your compensation package once you are offered the position.

Pre-work is required for this session, and will be distributed by the PDFO in advance of the workshop date.


Dene Rossouw, Principal & Learning Coach,

Dene Rossouw

Dene is Principal and Learning Coach at team Possibil. He has facilitated hundreds of programs for various organizations in Africa and Canada and is known for his ability to demystify complexity and explain processes using transferable concepts and dynamic models.

Dene brings an eclectic background to the table: he’s been a paratrooper and preacher and is currently a learning coach and wildlife photographer. Each experience has provided a rich backdrop to his approach to inviting possibility and building influence through the power of authentic dialogue, persuasive writing and compelling storytelling.



  • Due to the interactive and cumulative nature of the Foundations program, participants are expected to attend all sessions in full. Program components include three full-day sessions.
  • In order to maximize time during each session, some pre-work will be required. The pre-work requirements include:
    • Completing the CliftonStrengths Assessment (approximately 45-60 minutes) (Note: Purchase of the CliftonStrengths assessment is not required, as the PDFO will provide this resource to all registered participants),
    • Watching several videos and completing questionnaires (approximately 90-120 minutes),
    • Compiling a draft version of one’s personal resume, CV, and/or additional work search documents, and
  • Locating job postings of interest. Any pre-work required for each program component will be circulated via email, and may be collected in advance of the session date.


  • All participants must be available to attend all sessions in full.
  • All applicants must hold a current UBC postdoctoral fellowship appointment at the time of application and for the entire duration of the Foundations program.
  • Postdocs who have repeatedly missed PDFO workshops without notice/cancellation may be considered ineligible to attend.


Due to the ongoing situation related to COVID-19 and physical distancing protocols, the Foundations of Career Planning Program is currently on hold for summer 2020.


Registration in the Foundations of Career Planning Program is required and will open closer to the session date. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Please direct any questions to the Postdoctoral Fellows Office by email at