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Individual Opportunity Plan (IOP): Step 2 — Self Assessment: A Personal SWOT Analysis

To plan your career realistically it is essential that you assess your own abilities and evaluate the academic world around you. In this step of the IOP, you will use a common business tool, the SWOT analysis, to assess your personal (internal) Strengths and Weaknesses; and the Opportunities and Threats in your environment (external). This analysis will enable you to build on your strengths, address your weaknesses, exploit potential opportunities, and avoid any threats. Remember: the SWOT analysis will require honest self assessment.



Strengths are activities or areas where you excel.
What skills do you do well? What are the strengths in your knowledge base? What positive behaviors or attributes do you exhibit?
List up to 5 strengths on your IOP worksheet: highlight strengths that are relevant to your career mission.

Examples of Strengths:
IOPclinician02   Clinician:
 Highly competent general pediatrician
 Bilingual written and spoken language skills
IOPresearcher01   Researcher:
 Graduate training on the biochemistry of the nervous system
 Developed mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease


Weaknesses are areas you want to develop or acquire.
What skills, behaviors or attributes do you wish to acquire or improve? What are the gaps in your knowledge? What resources or connections are you missing?
List up to 5 weaknesses on your IOP worksheet: highlight weaknesses that are relevant to your career mission.

Examples of Weaknesses:
IOPclinician02   Clinician:
 Unsure how to engage underserved populations
 Need to understand population health issues
IOPresearcher02   Researcher:
 Modest experience in grant-writing
 Unsure how to manage a lab efficiently


Opportunities open new avenues for you to advance your career and mission.
Where is the growth opportunity for you? What is changing in your field? What funding opportunities are available? What are the gaps in knowledge?
Look for opportunities, openings, changes in your department, lab, school, community, nationally…
List up to 5 opportunities on your IOP worksheet that are relevant to your career mission.

Examples of Opportunities:
IOPclinician02   Clinician:
 PCORI grants recently awarded to UMMS
 Faculty Preceptor needed for medical students in Free Clinic
IOPresearcher02   Researcher:
 Call for applications on animal models from the Alzheimer Foundation
 Two graduate students are interested in the lab


Threats may hinder you accomplishing your mission.
What threats (barriers, obstacles) are present or predicted in your department, the school or the external world that might hinder you accomplishing your mission? What are the political minefields? Changes in funding?
Have others in your department faced barriers or challenges to their progress?
Do your passions align with the expectations of your department or institution?
List up to 5 threats on your IOP worksheet that are relevant to your career mission.

Examples of Threats:
IOPclinician02   Clinician:
 Overwhelming patient volume in clinical practice
 Limited staff resources
IOPresearcher02   Researcher:
 Limited lab resources, particularly support for graduate students
 New Chair’s focus on neuromuscular disease


Continue to Step 3Planning Your Career
IOP Navigation: IOP Worksheet | Overview | Step 1 | Step 3