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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)! Our full spring calendar is coming soon! 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 a special professional development grant to support career advancement. 

Grants and Fellowships

Grant Series Part I: Funding Search Strategies
Thursday, January 31st - 2:30-3:30pm  
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.
 
Brown Bag: Asking for Grant or Fellowship Letters of Recommendation
Friday, February 1st - 11:30am-12:30pm 
538 Goodell
Letters of recommendation are a critical part of grant or fellowship application, as letters can reveal qualities that don’t show up on transcripts or in application essays. This session will help you strategize how to choose letter writers and provide tips on when and how to ask for letters (spoiler: ask early!). Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration required. 
 
 

Communication

3MT® Competition – Register now! 
Would you like to test your communication skills for the chance to win $1,000? The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its annual Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) in Spring 2019. These popular competitions have become a global phenomenon and offer graduate students the opportunity to communicate the significance of their research to a general audience, all in three minutes or less. The 3MT competition is open to full-time UMass Amherst graduate students—in good academic standing—from any discipline. Preliminary rounds will be held the week of Feb. 11th; the top two finishers in each preliminary round will compete in the campus Final on Friday, March 1st. The first place winner will receive $1,000, with the runner-up and People’s Choice winner each receiving $500. Check out UMass’s 3MT website for more information. Space is limited, so register early to reserve your spot!
 
3MT Info Session
Thursday, January 24th - 2:30-3:15pm OR 
Monday, January 28th - 3:00pm-3:15pm 
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. 
 
Connection is a Choice--presented by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science
Wednesday, January 16th - 3:00-4:30pm
N151 Integrative Learning Center (ILC)
The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science has received numerous awards for their fun and creative approaches to helping researchers craft short, clear, conversational statements about what they do and why it matters. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to attend an Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science session here at UMass! Their interactive presentation will address problems commonly encountered in public interactions and peer-to- peer communication. The UMass community is welcome and pre-registration is required. 
 
Semester Planning Clinic: Making a Strategic Writing Plan from Now to May 
Wednesday, January 23rd - 4:00-5:30pm 
538 Goodell
Getting your semester off to a strong start requires knowing where you want to go and how you plan on getting there. This interactive clinic will provide strategies to plan your writing work and give you time to make those plans. Bring planners, calendars, syllabi, schedules of family members, access to email—anything you need to make a map of the semester. Pre-registration required.
 
Communicating the Value of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Friday, January 25th - 12:30-1:30pm
803 Campus Center
Social scientists face perpetual criticism that our research isn’t “real” science and humanists are continually threatened by decreased funding and political attacks by people who misunderstand the value of our work. Even our friends might ask “Why bother studying that?” We need to promote our research to a larger community outside the academy in a clear and confident manner. Join our faculty panelists, including Lee Badgett (Economics; author of The Public Professor), Karen Kurczynski (Art History), and Jennifer Lundquist (Sociology; Senior Associate Dean of Research & Faculty Development), for an open discussion of the ways in which we can effectively communicate the significance of our research – and the humanities and social sciences broadly – to a general audience. Pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration required. 
 
Writing, Speaking, & Designing Figures: Three Skills for Communicating Effectively with Professor Tobias Baskin
Tuesday, January 29th - 3:30-4:45pm 
538 Goodell
Prof. Tobias Baskin (Biology) will present guidelines for writing that maximize the reader’s comprehension. He will then extend these guidelines to principles of speaking and designing figures. Though his examples will be drawn mostly from writing in the sciences, these guidelines are relevant to writers in any discipline. Pre-registration required.
 
Giving a Presentation: What Do I Do with My Hands? 
Wednesday, January 30th - 12:15-1:30pm
538 Goodell
Giving a Presentation: What Do I Do with My Hands? 
How can your voice and body be used to enhance your presentations and make your message as effective as possible? Come to this session to learn (and practice) proper body language that will make you appear more relaxed and in control. This workshop is ideal for people who are teaching, planning to do a job talk in the future, or participating in the 3MT competition! Please feel free to bring a lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.
 
Pomodoro Writing Clinic
Friday, February 1st - 2:00-4:00pm 
538 Goodell
Do you know how to finish a writing project 25 minutes at a time? In this combined workshop and work session, we will briefly outline strategies for beginning and ending a work session with the Pomodoro technique. Then we will practice doing two Pomodoros: 25 minutes of writing and 5 minutes of break (snacks provided). Think of it as a mini writing retreat – or a chance to practice a great time-management strategy. NOTE: After this clinic, OPD will host a Pomodoro Group on Fridays from 2-4pm all semester, so come learn how to best use this technique! Pre-registration required.
 
 

Teaching

Teaching Working Group – Register now!
Would you like to take your teaching to the next level? Would you like to feel supported while you try out some new ideas in the classroom? Join the inaugural Teaching Working Group! This group will meet 4 times over the course of the semester to discuss new ideas for our classes and report back on how new lessons went. Interested participants should be teaching a discussion section, lab section, or their own class this semester. Please apply here.
 
Leading a Class Discussion 
Thursday, January 31st - 10:00-11:15am
538 Goodell
Are you leading a discussion section this semester? Teaching a discussion-based class involves striking a balance between directing a discussion and letting it go where students want to take it. And what if no one talks?! This interactive workshop will provide an opportunity to review strategies instructors can use to stimulate active discussion in the classroom. Pre-registration required.
 
 

Career Preparation

Alt-ac Working Group – Register now! 
Are you considering a non-faculty career? Are you interested in exploring career options in museums, administration, non-profits, policy, communication, or any hundreds of other jobs that allow you to use your amazing skills and knowledge that you have gained in grad school? The Alt-ac Working Group is a place to discuss, explore, and prepare for these careers! (Alt-ac stand for “alternative to academic jobs.”)  We meet once each month to discuss topics suggested by the group. To learn more, please fill out a pre-registration form here.
 
What Can I Do with a PhD? Part I: Self-Assessment 
Thursday, January 17th - 11:30am-1:00pm
528 Goodell
Wondering what to do after earning a graduate degree in the humanities or social sciences? In this interactive 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 is focused on the humanities and social sciences, but those from all fields are welcome to participate! Pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration required.
 
What Can I Do with a PhD? Part II: Exploring Job Ads and Opportunities
Thursday, January 17th - 1:15-2:45pm 
528 Goodell
Who employs people with a graduate degree in the humanities or social sciences? In this interactive workshop, you will learn to interpret a job ad: how can you tell which jobs describe careers that you might want and how do you know which employers might be looking for you? This workshop is focused on the humanities and social sciences, but those from all fields are welcome to participate! Pre-registration required.
 
Networking Advice for People Who HATE Networking
Tuesday, January 22nd - 1:00-2:00pm 
538 Goodell
 
You know you need to do it. Research shows that networking influences hiring, salary growth, and job satisfaction. Before you head to your next professional conference or social gathering, join this interactive workshop to move beyond your dislike and develop an action plan for this essential skill. Pre-registration required.
 

Personal Development

Get Organized with Bullet Journaling
Thursday, January 17th - 1:00-2:00pm 
538 Goodell
Do you have a million little to-do lists floating around and need an organized way to bring them all together? This session will introduce you to the world of bullet journaling and provide tips for getting and staying organized. Pre-registration required.
 
Networking Advice for People Who HATE Networking
Tuesday, January 22nd - 1:00-2:00pm 
538 Goodell
 
You know you need to do it. Research shows that networking influences hiring, salary growth, and job satisfaction. Before you head to your next professional conference or social gathering, join this interactive workshop to move beyond your dislike and develop an action plan for this essential skill. Pre-registration required.
 
How to Interact with Seminar Speakers and Make a Good Impression
Wednesday, January 30th - 2:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell 
Departments frequently host faculty and visiting scholars for seminars and talks. You are busy – why should you care? Remember, it’s a small world and you never know how these guests might be able to help you in the future, even when your research feels distant. This session will talk about how to prepare, make a positive impression, and establish meaningful connections with guest speakers. Pre-registration required.