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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 spring semester (organized by month/competency)! Check back often, as events are continually added and updated. To contact us please call 413-545-6001 or email

Postdocs are encouraged to take advantage of a special professional development grant to support career advancement. 

Grants and Fellowships

Brown Bag: Personal Statements vs. Research Proposals
Wednesday, August 15th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
Many funding applications require a personal statement in addition to a research proposal, but how do these differ? This informal, interactive session will help you “sell” yourself through the personal statement and craft a compelling and realistic research proposal. While geared towards students applying for the NSF GRFP, all graduate students and postdocs are welcome. Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration is required.
Grant Series Part I: Funding Search Strategies
Monday, August 20th - 12:00-1:00pm 
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. Pre-registration required.
Grant Series Part II: Framing & Writing the Proposal
Monday, August 20th - 1:15-2:15pm 
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! Pre-registration required. 
Grant Series Part III: Soliciting Feedback & Revising
Monday, August 20th - 2:30-3:30pm 
538 Goodell
Want to turn a good funding application into a great one? Solicit feedback on your writing and make time for revisions. Come learn techniques, and get a dose of confidence, to accomplish these critical tasks. This is the final offering in a three-part series, but previous attendance is not required to participate. Pre-registration required. 
Brown Bag: Addressing the “So What?” Question
Tuesday, August 21st - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
A critical component of any funding application is communicating the contribution your work will make to academia and society. Using NSF’s Intellectual Merits and Broader Impacts as our guide, we will brainstorm strategies to communicate the significance of your work to diverse audiences. While geared towards students applying for the NSF GRFP or DDRIG, all graduate students and postdocs are welcome. Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration is required.
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship: Application Strategies
Tuesday, August 28th - 12:00-1:00pm 
Campus Center 162-75
Proving $30,000 of support during the final year of graduate school, the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship is one of the most prestigious fellowships awarded to graduate students. This event will provide advice on how to craft a competitive and cohesive proposal and is ideal for those intending to apply this year as well as those planning ahead to apply next year. A pizza lunch is provided. Pre-registration is required.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Application Strategies
Thursday, August 30th - 12:00-1:15pm 
S330 Life Science Laboratories
A three year award that provides an annual stipend of $34,000, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is one of the most prestigious awards for early-career STEM and social science graduate students. Our panel will share tips for crafting compelling proposals, offer insight on what reviewers look for, and outline UMASS resources to help you prepare your application. Eligibility information for the GRFP may be found on the program’s website ( Co-sponsored by ISSR. Pre-registration required. 
Can't attend the August 30th session? This event will be repeated, register here
  • Thursday, September 6th - 11:30am-12:45pm, 165-69 Campus Center
  • Friday, September 7th - 10:00-11:15am, 165-69 Campus Center
  • Wednesday, September 12th - 2:30-3:45pm, S330 Life Science Laboratories


Drop the Jargon and Get to the Point!
Thursday, August 23rd - 12:00-1:30pm
538 Goodell
Strong communication is critical to your success at UMass and beyond, but learning to communicate with your peers and colleagues isn’t enough. How do audiences for grant applications, networking, public engagement or job interviews differ from traditional academic audiences? This session will offer strategies to craft clear, concise descriptions of your work relevant to these different audiences. We will also discuss UMass programs to help further develop your communication skills, such as the Graduate School’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT)© competition. Pizza lunch provided. Pre-registration is required.


Syllabus Re-Design Workshop: Six Principles of an Inclusive Syllabus
Wednesday, August 22nd - 9:30-11:30am
904-08 Campus Center
In this workshop, you will learn the six principles of an inclusive syllabus design. Then, Dr. Lara Al Hariri (Chemistry) and Michael DiPasquale (LARP) will share how they used these principles for redesigning their course syllabi and Moodle pages. Following the presentations, you will have the opportunity to workshop your own syllabus to make it more inclusive and equitable. Light breakfast will be served. Sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration required.
Classroom Policies: Attendance, Late Work, and Cell Phones, oh my!
Wednesday, August 29th - 2:00-3:15pm 
538 Goodell
Agonizing over the last details in your syllabus? Indeed, the way you design simple policies like attendance, late work, and technology usage can have massive consequences on everything from the vibe of your class to the amount of bookkeeping and student emails you have to suffer through. Come to this workshop to learn how to choose policies that are student- and teacher-friendly. Pre-registration required.
Designing Assignments for Learning
Thursday, August 30th - 1:45-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Interested in designing creative, real-world projects that will challenge and interest your students? Are you sick of reading the same half-baked research papers every semester? This workshop will look at how we design assignments and how we might better communicate with students about them. Pre-registration required. 

Career Preparation

Academic Cover Letter Drafting Party 
Thursday, August 16th - 12:00-2:00pm
538 Goodell
Applying for faculty positions this fall? During this event, you will draft a cover letter (or refine an existing letter) and have the opportunity to workshop it with peers. The session will begin with a short presentation of cover letter best practices. Pizza lunch provided. Pre-registration required.
Polish Your CV
Friday, August 24th - 1:00-2:30pm
538 Goodell
Are you getting your CV ready for faculty, postdoc, or grant applications? In this workshop, we will discuss some of the common (interdisciplinary) traits of a polished CV and learn what search committees are looking for first. You will have time to work on your CV document (so bring a laptop!) and ask specific questions. Pre-registration required.

Personal Development

A Leader’s Toolkit: Persuasion and the Art of Decision Making
Wednesday, August 15th – 11:00am-1:00pm
905-09 Campus Center
Why do smart people sometimes make bad decisions? Why are some people so great at convincing teams to adopt their ideas?  This session will provide insights about how people make decisions and offer strategies to increase your powers of persuasion. A pizza lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required.