Skip to main content

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 semester program (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 special professional development opportunities to support your career advancement. 

Grants and Fellowships

Grant Searching Strategies for Postdocs
Friday, March 10th - 12:00-1:00pm 
901 Campus Center
Designed for current postdocs or graduate students searching for postdoc funding, this session will introduce you to basic tools to help find grants and fellowships. We’ll also discuss tips to manage your funding search. Bring your laptop to this interactive session and get searching! Lunch provided; pre-registration is required.
Getting Ready for Fall Fellowships
Tuesday, April 18th - 2:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Many fall funding deadlines are less than six months away—are you ready? This session will introduce tools to help you search for funding, outline what makes an application competitive, and strategize how to use the summer to ramp up for the fall funding season. Pre-registration is required.


3MT Final Round Competition
Friday, March 24th - 4:00-6:00pm 
Student Union Ballroom
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its inaugural Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®)! 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 Final will feature the top finishers from the preliminary rounds; the winner of the Final will receive $1,000, with the runner-up and People’s Choice winner each receiving $500. Come and cast your vote! Winners will be announced live, followed by a reception. Pre-registration is requested. 
Summer 2017 Dissertation-Writing Retreats
Application Deadline April 17, 2017
Make progress on your dissertation this summer! These retreats are designed for graduate students from all disciplines at the dissertation-writing stage. Accepted applicants will have sustained time to write, gain practice setting writing goals, and develop strategies for planning, drafting, and revising. Session 1: June 5th-9th, 9:00 am-4:00 pm. Session 2: August 7th-11th, 9:00 am-4:00 pm. Co-sponsored with the Writing Center. Click here for more information. Complete this form to apply.
Effectively Revising Your Writing 
Monday, March 27th - 10:00am-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
Polishing a rough draft is hard. This guided workshop will give you an opportunity to practice revising your own work. Bring a piece of writing to this workshop and try four revision tricks designed to diagnose and solve problems of structure, “flow,” clarity, and conciseness. Learn which revision strategies work at different phases of the writing process in order to streamline and expedite your writing process. Co-sponsored by the UMass Writing Center. A pizza lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is required.
Getting the Most Out of Your Coursework: Turning Your Seminar Paper into a Conference Presentation
Tuesday, April 4th - 11:00am-12:00pm OR
Friday, April 7th - 4:00-5:00pm
538 Goodell
You wrote a pretty good research paper for your class. Now what? Consider converting that paper into a conference presentation or poster. This workshop offers concrete strategies to begin revising your seminar paper for a conference-style presentation while considering how you can craft a successful proposal out of what you already have written during the semester. Co-sponsored by the UMass Writing Center. Light refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is required.
How Do I Sound More Scholarly? Tone, Language, and Academic Style in Your Writing
Thursday, April 13th - 3:00-4:00pm
528 Goodell
Scholarly writing has its own unique conventions and rhetoric that takes plenty of trial and error to master. You can, however, become more confident in your tone and style with the help of some writing and revision strategies. Bring a sample of your own writing to this workshop to try revision tricks related to formality and word choice, objectivity, precision, and clarity. Pre-registration is required.
Crafting Titles for Your Writing
Wednesday, April 19th - 11:00am-12:30pm
528 Goodell
Titles are often an afterthought, but they can make or break a project: your title is the most visible part of your research, appearing on CVs and in electronic databases. This workshop will provide concrete strategies for writing clear, engaging, and impactful titles for seminar papers, conference presentations and posters, dissertations, and many other pieces of writing. Participants will have the opportunity to workshop their own titles in lightning round revision sessions. Light refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is required.


Grading Writing (Or, How I Learned to Stop Copyediting My Students’ Papers)
Wednesday, March 22nd - 12:30-1:45pm  
528 Goodell
This workshop will provide a general overview of grading strategies as well as specific methods for giving timely, relevant, and productive feedback on short or long writing assignments.  After learning about the varieties of possible feedback, attendees will discuss strategies for writing comments and using grading time efficiently. Part of the Time Management for Teachers Series. Co-sponsored with the Writing Center. Pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration is required.
Teaching Portfolios and Statements: An Overview
Friday, April 7th - 1:30-2:30pm
528 Goodell 
This workshop will explain how to develop a teaching portfolio that demonstrates your effectiveness as an instructor. Topics will include the purpose, content, and format of the teaching portfolio and development of a teaching statement. Pre-registration is required.
Better Science, Better Learning Through Inclusive Teaching
Wednesday, April 12th - 12:15-1:30pm
174-76 Campus Center
Achieving inclusive excellence is a critical but challenging goal throughout higher education. Smith College Psychology Professor and Faculty Director of the Sciences, Dr. Patricia Marten DiBartolo (2008 recipient of Smith’s Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching), will discuss the strategies and principles that can help to propel our classrooms toward better learning for all students. She will also suggest ways of getting beyond common sticking points (e.g., the complexities of delivering negative feedback across the racial divide) that can unintentionally derail even well-intentioned efforts to improve equity and inclusion. Part of TEFD’s Teaching & Diversity Professional Development Series; open to faculty, postdocs, and graduate students. Pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration is required.
Connect, Share, Exchange Ideas
Thursday, April 13th - 12:15-1:45pm
301 Goodell
For the final session of this semester, we will have an open forum with the topics that you want to discuss. Come for pizza lunch and to connect and exchange ideas with other international faculty, post-docs, and graduate students. Co-sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration is required.
Teaching Statements: An Interactive Workshop 
Friday, April 28th - 1:30-3:00pm
528 Goodell 
A teaching statement is a critical document for graduate students who anticipate a career in teaching, whether at the college level or elsewhere. This interactive workshop will give you the opportunity to receive feedback on a draft of your teaching statement. In addition to sharing your own work, we will review examples of teaching statements as a group to identify strengths and best practices. Pre-registration is required.
Crafting a Syllabus for Fall 2017
Tuesday, May 9th - 11:00am-1:00pm
528 Goodell 
Your syllabus can be a powerful tool for communicating your passions and intentions and encouraging an active, meaningful learning experience for students. This session will provide tools to help you develop course goals, learning outcomes, assignments, statements of responsibilities and other course policies. Throughout the session, you will work on constructing your own syllabus for a class that you are independently teaching. Pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration is required.

Career Preparation

Popular Science Writing
Friday, March 10th - 11:00am-12:15pm 
168C Campus Center 
Considering a career in popular science writing? Our panelists, who have written for NPR, The Conversation, Nature, The Guardian, and Huffington Post, will discuss popular science writing, challenges in writing for the general public, and the realities of being a professional science communicator. Panelists bios available here. Co-sponsored by That’s Life [Science]. Pre-registration is required.
Non-Academic Careers: Interviewing and Negotiating
Friday, March 10th - 2:00-3:30pm
538 Goodell
Interviewing and negotiating job offers can be extremely stressful. Come hear tips and suggestions on how to make both of these processes run smoother, including ideas on what can be negotiated. Pre-registration is required.
Intro to the Individual Development Plan (IDP) for Grad Students 
Monday, March 13th - 11:00am-12:30pm 
153 Goessman
The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a career planning tool that helps students connect their academic training with career aspirations. This hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the IDP sections, offer resources for assessing skills, interests, and values, and discuss the importance of SMART goals and mentoring networks. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is required.
Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for Postdocs
Monday, March 20th – 11:00am-1:00pm
153 Goessman
The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a career planning tool that helps postdocs connect their academic and research training with career aspirations. This hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the IDP sections, offer resources for assessing skills, interests, and values, and discuss the importance of SMART goals and mentoring networks. The interactive format enables participants to share and explore IDPs in a supportive peer environment. Pizza will be served. Session is restricted to postdocs and pre-registration is required.
IDP - Diving in Depth for Grad Students
Monday, March 27th - 11:00am-12:30pm 
153 Goessman
This workshop will help graduate students develop the details of their IDPs and create action plans. The interactive format enables participants to share and explore IDPs in a supportive peer environment. Refreshments will be provided. Students will leave the session with a set of goals and steps to get there. Pre-registration is required.
Communicating the Value of a Graduate Degree to Employers 
Thursday, April 27th - 5:00-6:00pm
528 Goodell 
You know what it takes to earn a graduate degree, but how do you translate this for the job search? This session will help you identify and articulate the graduate skills that employers value, such as critical thinking, problem solving, time management, project management, communication, and team building. This interactive workshop will help you start itemizing your experiences; bring your computer and begin drafting or revising your resume. Pre-registration is required.
5 Things You Must Do Before Going on the Academic Job Market in Fall 2017
Friday, May 5th - 12:00-1:30pm
528 Goodell 
There are less than 4 months until the academic job market cycle begins. It is time to start preparing now. Come learn the 5 things that you must do this summer to prepare for an ultra-competitive job market. Pizza lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is required.
Future Faculty Workshop for Women in STEM Fields 
Thursday, August 10th - 8:30am-5:00pm
Northeastern University (Raytheon Amphitheater, Egan Research Center)
Female graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in STEM fields are invited to apply for a day-long conference that will cover such topics as: Finding your institutional fit; Making your CV stand out; Preparing for Interviews; Negotiating a job offer; Developing a quick-start plan; and Developing time management skills. View the event flyer. The registration deadline is May 26th and accepted participants will be notified by June 5th. Accepted students will pay a fee of $25 by July 1st to confirm their participation (UMass Amherst will reimburse UMass Amherst attendees). This workshop is co-hosted by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Space is limited, so early registration is strongly encouraged.

Personal Development

Networking at Conferences and Everywhere
Friday, March 17th -11:30am-1:00pm
153 Goessman 
This session will discuss different networking strategies for small and large conferences, and how to network during different portions of the conference, such as poster sessions, oral presentations, social events and business meetings. Attendees will also learn about the process of networking follow-up, and actions to take before, during, and after the conference. Pre-registration is required.
Storage: Give Your Data a Good Home
Tuesday, March 21st - 12:00-12:30pm
1920 Du Bois Library
Working on a thesis or dissertation can take years and you’ll often want to revisit your research throughout your scholarly career. Digital files can be corrupted, computers can be stolen, and storage devices might malfunction. How you do you ensure that the files that you’re creating are safe, accessible, and – most importantly – backed up?  In this workshop, you will learn about storage, which will help you establish good habits in saving and preserving all of your valuable research and writing. Please bring your lap-tops to try out some of the tips. Part of the Love Your Research Data Series. Co-sponsored by UMass Libraries. Pre-registration is required. 
Balance in Graduate School 
Friday, March 31st - 2:00-3:30pm
538 Goodell
Establishing balance in graduate school is challenging. Join us for tips on ways that you can achieve balance in your life. Light refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is required.
Getting Unfrozen
Monday, April 10th - 2:00-4:00pm
917 Campus Center 
As winter melts into spring, are you still feeling frozen in place and frustrated by academia? Come to this workshop to reflect on the goals that originally brought you to grad school, refocus on the important parts of your career, and learn to “let it go.” Pre-registration is required.
Time Management for Summer Productivity
Monday, May 1st - 1:00-2:30pm OR 
Thursday, May 4th - 10:00-11:30am
528 Goodell 
Summer offers stretches of uninterrupted writing time, but too often such long periods of unstructured time can leave us feeling overwhelmed, leading to work paralysis and idleness. Prevent summer procrastination by making a plan. This workshop explores strategies for setting and prioritizing goals in order to create a better work-life balance that can keep you productive and focused. Light refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is required.