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Office of Professional Development Events

The Office of Professional Development (OPD) positions graduate students and postdoctoral researchers for success in their careers at UMass and beyond. Building upon the academic and technical expertise of the scholars we serve, OPD provides professional skills training to cultivate strengths in the areas of career preparation, communication, grants and fellowships, personal development, and teaching. Our extensive programming—created in collaboration with a far-reaching network of partners—prepares participants to thrive in academia, industry, government, and the non-profit sector.

Upcoming events are described below, but be sure to check out the full program for the fall semester (all lists organized by month/competency). Check back often, as events are continually added and updated. To contact us please call 413-545-6001 or email opd@grad.umass.edu.

Postdocs are encouraged to take advantage of special professional development opportunities to support your career advancement. 

Grants and Fellowships

Grant Series Part I: Searching for Funding
Monday, September 18th - 12:00-1:00pm OR 
Tuesday, September 19th - 5:00-6:00pm 
538 Goodell
Need external funding to support your research? Get started by learning about basic tools available to UMass graduate students and postdocs to help find grants and fellowships. We’ll also discuss tips to manage your funding search. This is the first in a three-part series—come to one event or all three! A pizza lunch is provided on Sept. 18th; light refreshments provided Sept. 19th. Pre-registration required.
 
Graduate Research Fellowship Series: Broader Impacts & Intellectual Merit
Tuesday, September 19th - 12:00-1:00pm
528 Goodell
Trained NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Mentors have organized this series to support students preparing NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) applications. Mentors, all former NSF GRFP recipients, will lead sessions that focus on elements of a competitive application; this session will focus on identifying and communicating Broader Impacts and Intellectual Merit, two critical review criteria. Bring your lunch; coffee and cookies provided. Pre-registration required.
 
Grant Search Strategies for International Students & Postdocs
Monday, September 25th - 12:00-1:30pm 
804-08 Campus Center
Many external grants and fellowships are restricted to US citizens or permanent residents, posing a challenge for international graduate students and postdocs. This session will offer strategies to help international students and postdocs search for external funding and understand related visa requirements. A pizza lunch is provided. Co-sponsored by the International Programs Office. Pre-registration required.
 
Ford Foundation Fellowships: Application Strategies
Tuesday, September 26th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
The Ford Foundation awards generous and prestigious predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral fellowships to students interested in careers in higher education who demonstrate a commitment to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Our panelists, including successful Ford Foundation Fellowship recipients, will provide advice on how to craft a competitive and cohesive application. Pre-registration required. 
 
American Association of University Women Fellowships: Application Strategies
Tuesday, September 26th - 1:15-2:15pm 
538 Goodell
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) offers prestigious dissertation writing fellowships for domestic students and fellowships for international students at all levels of graduate training. Our panelists, including successful AAUW Fellowship recipients, will provide advice on how to craft a competitive and cohesive application for either AAUW fellowship program. Light refreshments provided. Pre-registration required.
 
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Peer Review Session
Tuesday, September 26th - 5:30-7:00pm 
538 Goodell
Soliciting feedback on a draft of your funding proposal is critical but not always easy. Our peer review session will provide a low-stakes opportunity to receive high-impact feedback. Limited to those preparing applications for NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). You bring the proposal, we bring the pizza!  Pre-registration required; further instructions will be emailed upon registration.
 
Pizza & Proposals
Thursday, September 28th - 12:00-1:30pm
538 Goodell
Soliciting feedback on a draft of your funding proposal is critical but not always easy. Our peer review session will provide a low-stakes opportunity to receive high-impact feedback. You bring the proposal, we bring the pizza! Pre-registration required; further instructions will be emailed upon registration.
 
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Series: Research Statements
Friday, September 29th - 12:00-1:00pm 
528 Goodell
Trained NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Mentors have organized this series to support students preparing NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) applications. Mentors, all former NSF GRFP recipients, will lead sessions that focus on elements of a competitive application; this session will focus on refining your Research Statement, often the most challenging aspect of the application. Bring your lunch; coffee and cookies provided. Pre-registration required.
 
Grant Series Part II: Framing & Writing the Proposal
Monday, October 2nd - 12:00-1:00pm OR
Tuesday, October 3rd - 5:00-6:00pm  
538 Goodell
A successful grant proposal requires good ideas that are organized well. This session will outline various application elements, provide tips to craft a clear, cohesive proposal, and discuss common reasons proposals fail. This is the second offering in a three-part series—come to one event or all three! A pizza lunch is provided Oct. 2nd; light refreshments provided Oct. 3rd. Pre-registration required. 
 
Pizza & Proposals
Thursday, October 5th - 5:30-7:00pm
538 Goodell
Soliciting feedback on a draft of your funding proposal is critical but not always easy. Our peer review session will provide a low-stakes opportunity to receive high-impact feedback. You bring the proposal, we bring the pizza! Pre-registration is required; further instructions will be emailed upon registration.
 
Pizza & Proposals
Tuesday, October 10th - 12:00-1:30pm 
538 Goodell
Soliciting feedback on a draft of your funding proposal is critical but not always easy. Our peer review session will provide a low-stakes opportunity to receive high-impact feedback. You bring the proposal, we bring the pizza! Pre-registration required; further instructions will be emailed upon registration .
 

Communication

So You Have to Write a Literature Review
Wednesday, September 27th - 10:15-11:30am
528 Goodell
Many dissertations, research proposals, and articles require a literature review. But many grad students get stuck on this deceptively simple genre of scholarly writing. This session will demystify the lit review by discussing its purpose and strategies for critical reading and writing to make moving toward effective synthesis easier. Although all graduate students and postdocs are welcome, this session will focus on humanities and social science fields. Pre-registration required.
 
Info-Session: Winter 2018 Dissertation Writing Retreat
Monday, October 2nd - 3:00-3:45pm
528 Goodell
Interested in getting a jump-start on your dissertation or getting back on track this winter break? Want to know how to write a more successful application for our Dissertation Writing Retreats? Come to this brief info-session to figure out what OPD’s Winter Dissertation Writing Retreat offers and how you can benefit from a week of writing. Pre-registration required.
 

Teaching

Teach More in Less Time
Monday, September 25th - 1:30-3:00pm 
528 Goodell
Don’t spend a lot of time preparing for a lecture that students might not even remember! It is often quicker to prepare activities for students to do in class – and they will likely learn more from these active learning opportunities. This workshop will combine tips for time management and student-centered best teaching practices to help you teach more in less (prep) time. Pre-registration required.
 
Inside the American Classroom: Group Work, Student Expectations, and Challenges
Monday, October 2nd - 2:30-4:00pm 
301 Goodell 
Group work, in the classroom or the lab, is a great way to engage students and strengthen learning. But it can be hard as the instructor to move away from a prepared, scripted lecture and to turn over control to students working in groups or in the lab. Join us to discuss student expectations of (and resistance to) group work, your own concerns, and tricks to try in your next class. Part of the International Scholars Forum co-sponsored by TEFD; all international faculty, postdocs, and grad students are welcome! Pre-registration required.
 

Career Preparation

Talking About Teaching on the Academic Job Market 
Wednesday, September 20th - 12:30-2:00pm 
538 Goodell
This workshop will address how to talk about teaching on the academic job market. What are search committees looking for in cover letters, teaching statements, portfolios, or in interviews? Participants will draft language about their teaching that is suitable for all facets of the academic application. Snacks will be provided; please feel free to bring your lunch. Pre-registration required.
 
Drafting an Academic Cover Letter: Putting It All Together
Wednesday, September 27th - 12:30-2:00pm 
538 Goodell
Your academic cover letter combines all the ingredients of your faculty job application into one document, mixing together your research, teaching, and tailoring it all to a specific school. During this event, you will draft a cover letter (or refine an existing letter) and have the opportunity to workshop it with peers. Snacks will be provided; please feel free to bring your lunch. Pre-registration required.
 
What Can I Do with a PhD? Part I: Self-Assessment 
Thursday, September 28th - 2:00-3:30pm 
601 Herter Hall
What can you do with a PhD in the humanities or social sciences? This 3-part workshop series will help you explore your career options, learn more about employers that are excited about your scholar expertise, and create a plan to develop your resume/CV. In this first workshop, you will use self-assessment tools to identify your skills, interests, and values that will help you find the careers and fields in which you will be both successful and satisfied. This workshop series is focused on the humanities and social sciences, but those from all fields are welcome to participate! Pre-registration required.
 
Articulating your Awesomeness
Friday, September 29th - 10:00-11:00am 
538 Goodell
Do you have trouble understanding and articulating your transferable skills? Would you like your resume, CV or LinkedIn profile to better communicate who you are? Have you ever said, "I don't have any skills outside of my research?" If you said "yes" to any of these questions, this interactive session is for you! Pre-registration is required.
 
Career Conversations: Industry versus Academia - Comparing Environments
Friday, September 29th - 12:00-1:00pm 
Location will be sent to participants 
Are you considering career options and weighing the pros and cons of academia versus industry? Dr. Alysia Birkholz, former OPD Assistant Director and current Scientist at Texcell, will lead a discussion about different research environments. The way that organizations set research agendas, allocate resources, manage projects, evaluate performance, and award promotions can be significant factors in determining the “right fit.” This session will help you understand the questions to ask yourself and potential employers. Pre-registration is required.
 
Academic Job Documents Writing Mini-Retreat
Friday, September 29th - 12:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Submitting a faculty job application soon? Have your eye on an October 1 deadline? Come write in our quiet space with access to coffee, lunch, and snacks. We’ll start the session with some last-minute tailoring tips (and lunch) and then you will have the option to ask questions or receive feedback on your drafts throughout the afternoon. Pre-registration required.
 
Working in the US: OPT/CPT for Graduate Students
Wednesday, October 4th - 12:00-1:30pm 
153 Goessmann Lab
Ken Reade, Director of International Student & Scholar Services in the International Programs Office (IPO), will present the guidelines, limitations and application strategies for working/interning in the US with F-1 or J-1 Visas. Bring your employment questions about post-graduation, internships, OPT and CPT. Pre-registration required. 
 
Teaching at Teaching Intensive Institutions Conference 
Friday , October 6th - 9:00am-3:00pm 
Westfield State University, Westfield, MA
UMass Amherst is co-sponsoring a free one-day regional conference to bring together graduate students, postdocs, and faculty to discuss what it’s like to work at teaching-intensive institutions and how to apply for these faculty positions. Participants will engage with faculty and deans from a range of teaching-intensive institutions across the New England region through a series of talks, panel presentations, and networking opportunities. Faculty will be available to review and offer advice on CVs and cover letters. View the agenda and register now - fills up fast!
 

Personal Development

New Grad Series: Mapping Out Your Funding Strategy
Tuesday, September 19th - 10:30-11:15am 
538 Goodell
The keys to successfully funding your graduate career through grants and fellowships are to start early and stay organized! We’ll share tips on how to identify opportunities, when to apply for what, and how to map out your long-term funding plan. This session is part of the New Grad Series. Pre-registration required.
 
Workshop: Increasing Openness and Reproducibility in Quantitative Research 
Thursday, September 21st - 1:00-4:00pm 
2601 W.E.B Du Bois Library
Are you interested in ensuring your work is reproducible? Struggling with your workflow? Interested in tools that help you collaborate smoothly? Join the Center for Open Science to learn easy, practical steps that can increase the reproducibility of your work. Version control, documentation, and open-source options, like the Open Science Framework, will also be covered. This is a hands-on workshop, so please bring your laptop to fully participate! Co-sponsored by the UMass Libraries. Seating is limited, and pre-registration is required.
 
New Grad Series: Five Things Successful Graduate Students Do
Tuesday, September 26th - 10:30-11:15am 
538 Goodell
Welcome to Graduate School - there’s much to learn and much to achieve! We are not born successfulwe become successful. Today, we’ll talk about what that means and how you can structure your graduate experience to achieve success at UMass and beyond. This session is part of the New Grad SeriesPre-registration required.
 
New Grad Series: Time Management Strategies
Tuesday, October 3rd - 10:30-11:15am 
538 Goodell
It’s already October - where does the time go? Do you find yourself struggling with upcoming deadlines and long to-do lists? We will share tips to address these challenges and maximize productivity. This session is part of the New Grad SeriesPre-registration required.