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Getting Started

New to Penn? Below are suggestions on how to get oriented at Penn and learn what you need to know during the first few weeks of your traineeship.

New Arrival Checklist

  1. Contact your mentor and department

    Contact your faculty mentor and departmental business office before your first day and find out if you need to do anything before your start date.

  2. Get your PennCard

    Get your PennCard at the PennCard Center, located on the second floor of the Penn Bookstore (corner of 36th St. and Walnut St.).

  3. Activate your PennKey

    Visit PennKey Support for additional guidance.

  4. Fill out and submit your I-9

    Use your PennKey to log into Workday@Penn, complete your I-9 form, and bring it to the Onboard@Penn Center.

    This must be completed on your first day at work.

  5. Secure your health benefits

    Enroll in your health benefits within the Penn enrollment period. Review the available plan charts in the Postdoctoral Researchers and Fellows Benefits Enrollment Guide or the Postdoctoral Insurance Plan for NRSA Fellows.

  6. Plan your training

    Go to Workday Learning @ Penn, to self-identify most of your required research- and financial-related training needs.

Additional Steps


Attend an orientation if offered by your specific school, center, department, or lab. Save the date for the next all campus Postdoc Orientation.

Additional Training

Review additional training requirements with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

Tax Information

Apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or U.S. Social Security number (if eligible). See the Penn ISSS website for more information.

International Postdocs

Within 14 days of your arrival you must check-in with Penn International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

Relevant FAQs

I have an international postdoc. How long can I appoint them in a postdoc position?
Per the policy, postdoc appointments are made for one year. Postdocs can be reappointed for up to five years total. Faculty mentors who expect to reappoint an international postdoc can offer a multi-year visa sponsorship duration to mitigate the burden of visa renewals if funding is secured for the same period of visa sponsorship, there is an intention to reappoint the postdoc, and the postdoc meets the expectations of the position as documented in an Individual Development Plan. Departments need to include the appropriate language in the appointment or reappointment letter to offer a multi-year visa sponsorship duration and final approval must be secured by ISSS.
Which Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) CITI Training do I complete?
There are several different discipline specific RCR courses listed in the CITI training. You should choose the course that is most closely associated with your discipline: Biomedical Research – research in areas like life sciences, biomedical, health sciences, basic biological research, etc. Social and Behavioral Research – research in areas like anthropology, communication, economics, geography, communication, criminology, international studies, journalism, political science, psychology, sociology, speech and hearing, education, etc. Physical Sciences – research in areas like physics, earth sciences, chemistry, microbiology, evolution and ecology, astronomy, mathematics, energy, aerospace, lasers, etc. Humanities – research in areas like visual or performing arts, arts education, English or other languages, religious studies, gender studies, literature, history, etc. Engineering – research in general engineering fields. This course is very similar to the Physical Science course. Research Administrators – If you assist in the administration of research rather than the direct conduct of the research, you should select the Research Administrators course.
How are IDPs connected to federal policy?
The National Academies and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have identified IDPs as a critical component of postdoctoral training. The NIH policy states: NIH encourages institutions to develop Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers (including scholars, trainees and fellows, and individuals in other postdoctoral positions) supported by NIH awards by October 2014. The IDPs should be broadly implemented for all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH… [As of] Oct. 1, 2014… NIH will begin to encourage grantees to report the use of those IDPs on the progress report, regardless of the type of NIH grant that is used for support. Although not yet a formal NIH requirement, those who don’t adopt the IDP locally now are likely to be at a disadvantage at their next competitive review. Note that this policy applies to all trainees supported by NIH funds, whether training grants, R01s or other.
Are Individual Development Plans (IDP)s required?
IDPs for biomedical postdocs are required. It is strongly encouraged that all postdocs complete an IDP with the faculty mentor. Faculty mentors in the following schools are required to submit their postdocs completed IDP to The Office of Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP). Perelman School of Medicine PennVet Penn Nursing Penn Dental School of Arts & Sciences, Biology Department
What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?
An Individual Development Plan (IDP) refers to a structured document outlining the professional and career development goals of a postdoctoral researcher. IDPs are typically designed to help postdocs identify their strengths, weaknesses, career aspirations, and areas for improvement. Establishing clear expectations and setting goals with a clear plan for achieving them are critical to a productive postdoctoral experience. Therefore, at the beginning of the appointment, faculty mentors should work with their postdocs to complete an IDP. An IDP should: – Set clear short-term, mid-term, and long-term training and development goals. – Create a written action plan for the postdoc’s individual goals, including career objectives and professional development needs. – Establish clear expectations. – Identify and use resources to help postdocs achieve their goals. – Serve as a communication tool between the mentor and the postdoc to have open and direct dialogue.