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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 check out the full program for fall semester (organized by month and 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

Ford Foundation Fellowships Community Writing Days
Thursday, October 25th - 9:00am-1:00pm 
Tuesday, November 20th - 9:00am-1:00pm
524 Goodell
Writing your Ford Fellowship application is hard enough—don’t go it alone! Come to any portion of our Ford Foundation Fellowships Community Writing Days to write in community, with coffee, pastries, and a pizza lunch provided to fuel your efforts. Sign-ups for 30 minute consultations to review your application draft will be available each day on a first-come, first-served basis. Pre-registration required. 
Ford Foundation Fellowships Peer Review Session
Tuesday, November 6th - 6:00-7:30pm 
Friday, November 30th - 11:30-1:00pm 
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. In addition, evaluating a peer’s application will provide new perspective on your application and help strengthen your own writing. Limited to those preparing applications for Ford Foundation Fellowships. You bring the proposal, we bring the pizza! Pre-registration required; further instructions will be emailed upon registration.


Winter 2019 Dissertation Writing Retreat (January 14-18)
Application Deadline: November 12th
Make progress on your dissertation this winter break! Open to graduate students who are at the dissertation writing stage, this retreat offers extensive structured time to write and develop effective writing strategies. Throughout the week-long retreat, graduate student writers will practice setting and achieving short- and medium-term writing goals; develop strategies for planning, drafting, and revising; and have sustained writing time over the course of five days to develop effective rhythms for writing and make significant progress on a lengthy piece of writing. Click here for more details and for the link to the application form. Completed applications must be received no later than 11:59PM on Monday, November 12, 2018.
So What Do You Do? Effectively Conveying the Significance of Your Work
Friday, November 2nd - 1:30-2:45pm
538 Goodell
Explaining the significance of your work can be a daunting task. Through the writing process, you can develop strategies to share your research effectively and succinctly. Whether you’re writing something like a conference proposal or working through what to say when someone asks “what do you do?” this workshop will explore how to manage the limited time and space we often have to tell someone about our work. Please feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.
Anchor Meeting Clinic: The Weekly 30-Min Time Management Practice
Thursday, November 8th - 11:15am-12:30pm 
538 Goodell
The Anchor Meeting, a weekly, half-hour simple routine, is the heart of academic time management because it helps you overcome the challenge of balancing the upcoming week’s priorities (especially writing versus everything else). In this workshop, not only will you learn more about the Anchor meeting, you will have time to practice this helpful time management strategy, as you will perform the full Anchor Meeting independently, and together we’ll discuss the ways in it can work in the weekly academic grind. Bring everything you need to plan your week. Feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.  
Soliciting Effective Feedback
Wednesday, November 14th - 1:30-2:45pm 
538 Goodell
Sharing one’s writing is essential to developing effective revision practices and improving the overall quality of one’s writing. With an emphasis on soliciting formative feedback that speaks to more than just grammar, this workshop offers strategies to help you ask for and receive the kind of feedback you need from advisors, peers, and others. Pre-registration required.
3MT Info Session
Friday, November 16th - 2:30-3:30pm OR
Wednesday, December 18th - 11:00am-12:00pm OR  
538 Goodell
On March 1st, UMass will host its annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Graduate students will test their communication skills and compete for up to $1,000 in the process. This 3MT Info Session will outline the competition rules, with finalists from previous competitions on hand to provide tips on how to prepare your presentation. Pre-registration required. 


Learning What’s Working: Techniques for Evaluating your Teaching Effectiveness
Friday, November 2nd - 1:30-3:00pm
805-09 Campus Center
How do you know when you’ve taught a good class? By the looks on your students faces? By the warm fuzzies you feel? Maybe you’ve thought things were doing fine until you saw the exam results or got your evaluations back. In this workshop, you’ll learn about and design relevant measures of teaching effectiveness for your own classroom. You’ll also learn how to parlay your evidence-based approach into a unique, effective teaching statement or job interview conversation. Co-sponsored by CIRTL and led by Dr. Denise Pope, CIRTL Teaching-as-Research Program Coordinator. Pre-registration required.
Combatting Linguistic Bias (International Scholars Forum )
Friday, November 9th - 12:15-1:30pm
301 Goodell
A recent study of found that students often express linguistic bias against instructors who are non-native English speakers. In this interdisciplinary session, participants are invited to share their challenges and discuss ways to overcome disempowering experiences. Join us to build community with other international faculty, postdocs, and grad students! Co-sponsored by TEFD.  Pre-registration required. 
Creating Rubrics for Fair and Time-Effective Grading
Tuesday, November 13th - 12:00-1:00pm
538 Goodell 
Rubrics are a helpful tool for achieving accuracy and fairness in grading. They can also streamline grading for greater efficiency. This workshop will offer an overview of rubric design and engage participants in creating rubrics. Please feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.

Career Preparation

Find Your Fit and Make a Plan: IDP for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Wednesday, October 31st - 11:30am-1:00pm
538 Goodell
Are you wondering what you will do after grad school? Are you unsure of how best to use your time to prepare for your future career? Isn’t it too early for career planning? (Spoiler: Never too early!) You need an individual development plan (IDP)! No matter what career(s) you are considering or how close you are to the job market, an IDP will help you set goals to find and follow the career path that fits you best. In this workshop, you will begin to create your IDP. The session will be focused on the humanities and social sciences, but all are welcome. Pizza lunch provided. Pre-registration required.
What’s Wrong with Your Cover Letter
Tuesday, November 6th - 1:00-2:15pm
538 Goodell 
Demonstrating “fit" is critical, especially when making a career pivot (such as when applying for alt-ac jobs): you have to be explicit about how your current skills and experiences as a grad student or postdoc translate to a new career field. This persuasive argument – that you are right for this job – is made in the cover letter. In this workshop, we’ll discuss common cover letter mistakes and discover some foolproof ways to write a cover letter that will make employers take notice. Pre-registration required.
Immigration Hot Topics
Tuesday, November 6th - 5:30-7:00pm
163 Campus Center
 Madeline Cronin and Eoin Reilly, immigration attorneys from Iandoli Desai & Cronin P.C. Law Firm, will join Ken Reade from the UMass International Programs Office to discuss a variety of immigration topics, including employment-based visas, permanent residency, and green cards. Open to all students, scholars and postdocs. Co-sponsored by OPD, the International Programs Office (IPO) and Student Affairs and Campus Life. Pizza will be served and pre-registration is required.
Effective Interview Strategies for the Academic Job Search (STEM)
Rescheduled: Wednesday, November 7th - 12:00-1:30pm  
917 Campus Center
Join Dr. John Lopes (CNS Assoc. Dean) for a discussion about what to expect, how to prepare, who to impress, things to avoid, and how candidates are often judged in an academic interview. He will discuss the logistics of a campus interview, describe the “hidden” interviews, provide tips for the job talk, and offer advice about pre-trip preparation to maximize chances for success. Pizza lunch will be served. PLEASE NOTE THE NEW DATE. Pre-registration required. 
Exploring Careers in STEM
Wednesday, November 7th - 2:30-4:00pm 
S340 Life Science Laboratories
Would you like to learn more about a variety of career paths from a panel of accomplished professionals? Attend this event to gain insights about careers in management and operation of core facilities, product strategy, biotech sales and marketing, and research and development. Our panelists have worked in academia, government labs, and across a variety of companies (PerkinElmer, Beckman Coulter, New England Biolabs, Millipore Sigma, QIAGEN, and more). Co-sponsored with the 2018 annual Northeast Regional Life Science Core Directors (NERLSCD) meeting . Pre-registration  is required.
Tips for Negotiating a Non-Academic Job Offer
Thursday, November 15th - 10:00-11:30am
538 Goodell
Are you hearing that you should negotiate your job offer, but feeling unsure about how to do this? This session will offer negotiation tips and strategies to help you negotiate with confidence. Pre-registration required.


Personal Development

Networking for Introverts (and Extroverts, Too!): How to Make the Most of Your Next Conference
Monday, November 5th - 2:00-3:30pm
Career progression often depends on fostering a strong and supportive professional network, but do you feel awkward at networking events and uncomfortable making new connections? You are invited to attend this engaging webinar with Robbie Samuels that will offer tips and tricks to help introverts and extroverts learn how to work a room, from having the right tools to knowing the best approach to engage prospective colleagues and collaborators. You will benefit from learning how to be more strategic, effective, and inclusive while building great relationships. This webinar  is presented by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity . (UMass is an institutional member, so you can join for free and access all their online resources.)
Perfect is the Enemy of GoodThursday, November 8th - 1:15-2:15pm 
538 Goodell
Academic culture can make it seem that everything you produce must be perfect. But when is this constant strive for perfection really necessary and when is it a form of procrastination or a source of added stress? This session will offer tips to shake off the need for constant perfection and still produce work you are proud of. Pre-registration required. 
Finding and Friending People Like You
Friday, November 16th - 10:00-11:00am 
538 Goodell
Research shows that individuals with strong mentoring and support systems experience greater productivity, academic persistence, and professional success. Finding sources of support can be especially difficult if you identify as a person that’s “other” from most of the people around you. This session will offer advice for making meaningful social connections that can enrich your graduate experience. Pre-registration required.