Teaching biomedical trainees to manage their professional relationships

We are finally launching Manage-Up this fall – a workshop series teaching biomedical trainees how to navigate challenging situations, decisions and power dynamics in the lab, the clinic or their university.


This series is focused on teaching our trainees how identify early and respond skillfully to common difficult professional situations students, postdocs and recent graduates face. We’re focusing on common experiences that usually require some type of self-awareness and/or situational awareness to navigate and are frequently complicated by power differentials between the trainee/new professional and the other person.

At its core, all of our workshops involve developing our trainees’ ability to:

  1. Recognize and accurately assess themselves, the other person or the situation:
  2. Determine if they are able to manage it on their own, and do so.
  3. Reach out for support in navigating the situation, if they determine it would be imprudent to try to address the situation on their own.

We’ve based our workshops on key moments and difficult situations that trainees have told us about in counseling appointments. We have sessions on:

  • Teaching trainees how to recognize and avoid unproductive situations and professional relationships (How to choose a thesis lab’; ‘How to choose a postdoc’ and ‘How to use the interview to tell if an opportunity is toxic or a bad fit’).
  • Starting off on the right foot (Using the MyIDP to manage your career’; ‘Hit the Ground Running: How to establish yourself in a new rotation, lab or workplace’; ‘Finding your five mentors’)
  • How to navigate key moments (‘How to have a career conversation with your advisor or PI’)
  • And managing power dynamics (‘How to navigate – and not get crushed – by [lab, workplace, etc.] politics’;’Managing your relationship with your research mentor’;’Managing power differentials in research collaborations’ )

This series reflects two of OCPD’s eight beliefs that we want every trainee to understand: (1) Professional Skills Are Learned; Not Innate” – knowing how to establish yourself as a professional and select opportunities that are a good fit requires both self-awareness and understanding of the organization. Also (2) “You Have Agency“- skillfully navigating professional relationships and politics is cultural capital that not everyone shows up with, but anyone can learn. I’ll write more about how we designed each session and how they were received in the coming year.

But for now you can click here to learn more about the series!