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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 summer! 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

Hands-On Grant Searching
Thursday, June 20th - 2:00-2:45pm 
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 required.
Convincing Funders That Your Work Matters
Thursday, June 27th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
A critical component of any funding application is communicating the contribution that 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 in any type of funding proposal. Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration required.


Shut Up & Write Tuesdays
Tuesdays (June 4th - Aug 13th, excluding July 2nd) - 9:00am-1:30pm
Graduate Commons, 5th Floor, Du Bois Library
Writing alongside others is a best practice for academic writing! This weekly drop-in provides time and space to write while caffeinated - come late or leave early. Optionally, graduate writing consultants will be available to meet with writers to discuss any type of writing or stage in the writing process. Sign up here to reserve a 45-minute consultation ; on-site sign-ups are also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Co-sponsored with the Writing Center. One pre-registration  for the series is required; attend one week or attend them all!
Pomodoro Wednesdays
Wednesdays (June 5th - July 31st, excluding June 26th & July 3rd) - 1:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Do you need to boost your productivity? Join OPD for Pomodoro Wednesdays! 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 Wednesday, we’ll do four Pomodoros. The first round will start promptly at 1pm, so arrive beforehand if you’d like to settle in and get warmed up. One pre-registration  for the series is required; attend one week or attend them all!
Checkpoint Wednesdays
Wednesdays (June 5th - July 31st, excluding June 26th & July 3rd) - 3:00-4:00pm
538 Goodell
Accountability is a best practice for academic writing. Each Wednesday, we’ll reflect on the previous week and plan the upcoming week. How have you spent your time? What is working? What are the obstacles on horizon? After reflecting, we’ll discuss, strategizing for both productivity in the week ahead and your long-term writing goals. One pre-registration  for the series is required; attend one week or attend them all!


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.

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.
Tips for Negotiating a Non-Academic Job Offer
Wednesday, June 19th – 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.
AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships: What are they and how do I get one?
Thursday, June 20th - 11:30am-1:00pm
S340 Life Science Laboratories
Researchers often appreciate the need for science to inform policy, but aren’t necessarily sure how to make that happen.  The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) created Science & Technology Policy Fellowships to teach scientists and engineers about federal policymaking processes and help them develop the knowledge and skills to address today’s most pressing societal challenges. In this session, Chelsea Marcho, an MCB alumna recently awarded an AAAS STP Fellowship at USAID, will talk about the fellowship application process and how to prepare a competitive application. A pizza lunch will be served and pre-registration is required.
Exploring Non-Academic Careers in STEM  
Thursday, July 18th - 9:30am-3:45pm
135 Integrated Sciences Building; Amhrest Room (Campus Center 10th Floor)
Learn about non-academic career paths from accomplished professionals working in areas such as data science, air quality, organism engineering, laboratory operations, compliance, science communications and research and development across a variety of sectors (nonprofit, biotech, start-up, investment, government). Speakers hold advanced degrees in biomedical engineering, chemistry, entomology, environmental health, molecular & cellular biology, and neuroscience. The day kicks off with a morning Career Panel, followed by a limited seating Networking Luncheon. Afternoon talks by Dr. Joanne Mei (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Dr. Katie Maher (RA Capital Management) will offer insights about government and other career opportunities for advanced degree holders in STEM. View the flyer and biosketches. Pre-registration required.

Personal Development

A Leader’s Toolkit: Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Thursday, June 13th – 11:30am-1:30pm
N610 Life Science Laboratories
Why do smart people sometimes fail? Why do job candidates with strong technical expertise get rejected by employers? Why are hiring managers always talking about “team work” and “fit”? In technical fields, we often overvalue IQ and undervalue Emotional Intelligence (EI). However, research suggests that EI is a better predictor of success at leadership levels. In this interactive session, we will talk about Emotional Intelligence and provide strategies for recognizing and managing your emotions. A pizza lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required.