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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 (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

Brown Bag: Addressing the “So What?” Question 
Thursday, July 27th - 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.

Hands-On Grant Searching
Tuesday, August 1st - 2:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Searchable databases are a valuable tool for finding grants and fellowships, but only if you know how to use them effectively. Bring your laptop (or check one out from the DuBois Library) and we’ll explore which tools are the best fit for your funding needs. Pre-registration is required.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Application Strategies
Monday, August 7th - 12:00-1:30pm 
538 Goodell
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. Applications are due in early fall so summer—our panel will help you use your summer wisely to develop a competitive application. We will share tips for crafting compelling proposals, offer insight on what reviewers look for, and outline UMASS resources to help you prepare your application. Pre-registration required.
Brown Bag: Anatomy of a Successful NSF Grant Proposal 
Thursday, August 10th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
Stumped on how to develop a strong “hook” paragraph for your grant application? Struggling with how to craft a cohesive narrative? At this session we’ll jump-start your writing by dissecting successful NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and Dissertation Research Grant proposals submitted by UMass grad students. 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 requested.


Shut Up and Write Tuesdays
Tuesdays (June 6 - Aug 15, excluding July 4) 9:00am-1:00pm
Writing Center, Du Bois Library
Writing in the presence of others is not only less lonely, but also leads to better accountability and writing habits. This weekly drop-in provides time and space to write while caffeinated - come late or leave early. Optionally, writing consultants will be available to meet with writers to discuss any type of writing. Sign up here to reserve a 30-minute consultation; on-site sign-ups will also be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Co-sponsored with the Writing Center. Pre-registration for the series is required. One registration for the summer–attend one week or attend them all.
Organize Your Reading List
Tuesday, July 25th - 1:30-2:30pm 
538 Goodell
Summers are often a time when advisors give us a lot of reading to jumpstart the next semester, or it can be a time when we feel motivated to explore some preliminary reading for our comprehensive exams or dissertation proposals. But how do we make that reading worthwhile? Come learn strategies for effectively managing information and learn reading skills that will make the research process more effective and streamlined. Light refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is required.
Urgent Care for Your Writing
Wednesday, August 2nd - 12:00-1:30pm   
528 Goodell
What do we do with a first draft that doesn’t feel strong enough to submit to an advisor? Come share it with other grad students! Bring a page of your writing to workshop with your peers in a low-pressure setting where you can reflect on your writing process, think about where you are in your ideas, and get concrete feedback on your writing. Pizza lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is required.


Teaching events will resume in August. Please watch this space for details about upcoming programming.

Career Preparation

Exploring Non-Academic Careers in STEM 
Thursday, July 13th - begins at 9:30am
135 Integrated Sciences Building; Campus Center Amherst Room (10th Floor) 
Would you like to learn more about non-academic career paths from a panel of accomplished professionals?  Attend this event to gain insights about careers in medical writing, sales, applications science, IP (patents), and research and development across a variety of sectors (biotech/pharma, instrumentation, medical technology, government, publishing, etc.). Panelists (including several alumni) hold advanced degrees in biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, chemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and polymer science and engineering. The morning Career Panel will be followed by a limited seating Networking Luncheon. The afternoon keynote Navigating a Non-Linear Path will be offered by Dr. Sheryl Greenberg, Sr. Industrial Liaison Officer at MIT. For more information, view the event flyer and panelist bios.  Pre-registration is required.
Resume and Cover Letter Basics for the Non-Academic Job
Wednesday, July 19th - 10:00-11:30am
538 Goodell 
What are the differences between a CV and a Resume? What are the components of a Resume? Come get the basics involved in creating a resume for non-academic positions. Pre-registration is required. 
Working at Novartis: A Day in the Life 
Tuesday, July 25th - 10:00-11:30am
S231 Integrated Learning Center (ILC) 
How do global biopharmaceutical companies run? What types of challenges, opportunities, and interactions do you have with interdisciplinary teams and matrixed reporting? How much free coffee can you drink before lunch time? Join UMass Amherst alumni, CeCe Brotchie-Fine and Mike Tarselli, to discuss projects, collaborations, drug development, day-to-day schedules, and juggling the multiple hats of management and individual contribution in a large scientific organization. Pre-registration is required.
Novartis Professionals Offer Career Advice (Optional: Mock Interviews) 
Tuesday, July 25th - 1:30-2:30pm
S231 Integrated Learning Center (ILC) 
Which skills are critical to success in the biotech or pharmaceutical industries? How do you negotiate a salary? What are the “dos” and “don’ts” when on a job interview? CV or resume? Which is appropriate and how long should it be? UMass Amherst alumni, CeCe Brotchie-Fine and Mike Tarselli, will share tips for acing the interview and provide advice for career progression and promotion. Mike and CeCe will also offer eight (8) job-seeking students a 15-minute mock interview (this is optional and will run from 2:30-3:30pm). Visit the registration site for more information, and to apply for interview slots.
Selling Your Research on the Academic Job Market 
Friday, August 4th - 10:00-11:15am 
538 Goodell
How can you make your research stand out among a sea of applications? Learn how to discuss your dissertation or postdoc work as it related to your potential as a tenure-track faculty member. Even if your applications don’t require a formal research statement, learning to talk about research can help you in your cover letter and in interviews. Pre-registration is required.
Talking About Teaching on the Academic Job Market 
Friday, August 4th - 11:15am-12:30pm 
538 Goodell
This workshop will address how to talk about teaching on the academic job market. What are search committees looking for in cover letters, teaching statements, portfolios, or in interviews? Participants will draft language about their teaching that is suitable for all facets of the academic application. Pre-registration is required.
Drafting an Academic Cover Letter: Putting It All Together
Friday, August 4th - 1:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Your academic cover letter combines all the ingredients of your faculty job application into one document, mixing together your research, teaching, and tailoring it all to a specific school. During this event, you will draft a cover letter (or refine an existing letter) and have the opportunity to workshop it with peers. Pre-registration is required.

Personal Development

Finding and Engaging with Mentors, Sponsors and Advisors
Friday, July 28th - 10:00-11:30am
538 Goodell 
Research has shown that mentors play a vital role in future career success, but how do you go about finding mentors? What are the differences between mentors, advisors, supervisors, sponsors, and role models? This session will help participants understand these roles and provide tips for building successful mentoring relationships. Pre-registration is required.