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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 calendar, with event descriptions, for spring semester! Check back often, as events are continually added and updated. 

To contact us please call 413-545-6001 or email Follow us on Twitter (@umassOPD) and Instagram (@umass_opd)! 

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

Grants and Fellowships

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: Application Strategies
Friday, April 26th - 11:30am-1:00pm 
Location TBD
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is one of the most prestigious awards for early-career STEM and social science graduate students, providing an annual stipend of $34,000 for three years. 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 ( A pizza lunch is provided. Pre-registration required.


Summer 2019 Dissertation Writing Retreats
Application Deadline: April 15th
Make progress on your dissertation this summer! 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 retreat, graduate student writers will have sustained writing time; participate in a community of writers in order to build support and accountability; and experiment with best-practice writing skills for things like drafting, goal setting, and time management. 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, April 15, 2019.
Session 1: Fri., June 7th (9am-12pm) & Mon.-Thurs. (9am-5pm), June 10th-13th
Session 2: Fri., July 12th (9am-12pm) & Mon.-Thurs. (9am-5pm), July 15th-18th
Pomodoro Fridays
Fridays (April 12– April 26) - 2:00-4:00pm 
Graduate Commons, 5th Floor, W. E. B. Du Bois Library
Do you need to boost your productivity? Do you like to work alongside your fellow grad students and postdocs? Would a regular, weekly writing session help to anchor your work? This semester, join OPD for Pomodoro Fridays! The Pomodoro Technique is a tried and true productivity strategy consisting of 25 minutes of focused work followed by a 5 minute break. And the productivity grows when people work alongside each other! Each Friday, we’ll do four Pomodoros. The first round will start promptly at 2pm, so arrive beforehand if you’d like to settle in with coffee, tea, or a snack and get warmed up. One pre-registration for the series is required; attend one week or attend them all!
Writing the “Good-Enough” Dissertation
Tuesday, April 23rd - 5:30-7pm
538 Goodell
What makes a dissertation "done"? In this workshop, we'll discuss the difference between an in-process draft and the draft used for the defense milestone. In particular, we'll generate a vocabulary dissertators can use to both communicate with your adviser/committee and to guide reflection on your process. Pre-registration required.
Reading Day Reading Clinic
Thursday, May 2nd - 10:00am-12:00pm
538 Goodell
Are you overwhelmed by your exam reading lists? Do you have to read a lot in a short time for final papers? How do you know when you’ve read enough or if you’re reading the right things? At this clinic, we’ll practice three concrete strategies to make your reading more efficient and to practice taking notes that will lead directly into your writing projects. Spending about 25 minutes on each strategy, there will be a total of about 75 minutes of structured reading time. Think of it as a reading boot camp, a place to push finals reading forward and/or gear up for summer reading lists! Pre-registration required.
Finals Drafting Clinic
Monday, May 6th - 2:00-4:30pm 
538 Goodell
All writers agree: drafting is hard. By “drafting,” we mean that blank-page moment between research and initial draft, when most sentences are being composed for the first time. In this interactive workshop, we will practice four different methods for drafting academic projects (conference or seminar papers, articles or dissertation chapters), spending 25 minutes on each, for a total of 100 minutes of structured writing time. This workshop is for you if you have done some preliminary ground work for a project and would like to start writing (or begin writing a new section). Think of it as a drafting boot camp, a place to crank out final papers and gear up for summer writing projects! Bring with you everything you need to draft. Coffee and snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.


Using Technology to Manage Your Classes and Reach Your Students
Ever consider creating a blog for your course? How about recording your lectures automatically so students can review them? Interested in making your course content accessible to all of your students? UMass's Instructional Innovation office offers workshops all semester to help you better use technology in your teaching. Come get started with technology like Moodle, Echo360, Camtasia, Apps at UMass, and WordPress, or learn about “Making Movies” or “Podcasting Basics”! See the full list of workshops sponsored by Instructional Innovation here.
Wrapping It Up: Helping Students Reflect Effectively on Their Learning
Wednesday, April 17th - 1:30-3:00pm
2601 Du Bois Library
Are you wondering if your students are actually learning what you hoped they would learn? Is how you designed your course working out the way you planned it? Join other graduate students, postdocs, and faculty participants to examine how your final course assessments align to the learning objectives and brainstorm ways to engage students in helpful end-of-the semester reflections. Sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration required.
Teaching Statements: An Interactive Workshop 
Thursday, April 18th - 11:30am-1:00pm
538 Goodell
A teaching statement is a critical document for graduate students and postdocs who anticipate a career in teaching, whether at the college level or elsewhere. This interactive workshop will give you the opportunity to begin work on your teaching statement. In addition, we will review examples of teaching statements to identify strengths and best practices. Pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration required.
Becoming More Culturally Aware in Your Teaching Style (International Scholars Series)
Tuesday, April 23rd - 9:45-11:15am
301 Goodell
Are you concerned with making your classroom welcoming to students from a variety of cultures, but are not sure what that means in a practical sense? This interactive workshop will introduce a tool to help you analyze your teaching style. You will have time to redesign a lesson for a class you are teaching now (or one you might teach in the future) so that you can leave the session with some new teaching strategies to put into action! Co-sponsored by TEFD. 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.
Career Conversations: What Can I Do With a PhD at the Mayo Clinic?
Tuesday, April 23rd - 11:30am-12:45pm
N610 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
Many PhD level professionals enjoy rewarding research careers at the Mayo Clinic, including Dr. Marina Ramirez-Alvarado, who has been leading a team of scientists conducting state-of-the-art research for 17 years.  In this session, she will talk about the research environment at the Mayo Clinic and how it is both similar and different than those found at research intensive (R1) universities like UMass. A pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration required. 
CV Clinic
Wednesday, April 24th - 2:30-4:00pm
538 Goodell
Now, while all your recent achievements from fall are fresh in your mind, it’s time to update your CV! Whether starting a new CV or adding to an existing one, this interactive clinic is for you. After a brief presentation on CV standards and common mistakes, you will have the remainder of the time to work on your CV, ask questions and receive feedback on your draft. Pre-registration required.

Personal Development

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect, It Just Has to be Done
Wednesday, April 3rd - 2:30-3:30pm 
538 Goodell
Academic culture can make it seem that everything you produce must be perfect. But when is this pursuit of 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.