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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

Brown Bag: Convincing Funders That Your Work Matters
Tuesday, February 26th - 11:30am-12:30pm 
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.


Pomodoro Fridays
Fridays (Feb 8 – April 26, excluding March 1 and 15) - 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!
3MT Final Round Competition
Friday, March 1st - 1:00-3:00pm 
Campus Center Auditorium
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its 3rd annual Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT)! These popular events 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. Our campus 3MT Final will feature 10 UMass graduate students who advanced 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. 
Engaging With Policy Makers: Strategies and Pitfalls
Monday, March 4th - 1:25-2:15pm 
N610 Life Science Laboratories
Engaging With Policy Makers: Strategies and Pitfalls
Researchers often recognize that engaging with policy makers is important, but don’t necessarily know how to do it effectively. Dr. Jesús Alvelo, a UMass alum and current AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow hosted at the National Science Foundation, will reflect on his experiences as a science and policy advisor, highlighting the common mistakes that scientists make and offering strategies to avoid them. Dr. Alvelo will offer two talks – register for one or both (his other talk can be found in Career Preparation).
Mid-Semester Check Point: Re-Establishing Your Writing Productivity 
Monday, March 4th - 2:30-3:45pm 
538 Goodell
Whether you began the semester with a writing plan or not, chances are you aren’t exactly where you want to be. Come figure out what you are doing right, what’s getting in your way, and take some time to establish a new, informed plan for the semester. We’ll also take some time to plan any work you might do over Spring Break. 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.
Getting Students to Work in Groups 
Friday, February 22nd - 12:00-1:15pm
538 Goodell
Most students will happily talk in pairs, but can be more resistant of larger group projects. How can you set up student groups in the lab section or in a classroom so that the work is equally divided, all group members are participating and feel supported, and that maximizes student learning? Participants are invited to bring their expertise and questions to this discussion, as we consider the ways we can enhance student group work. Please feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.
TEFD Diversity Lunch Talk: Teaching Inclusively in Large and Online Classes
Monday, February 25th - 12:15-1:45pm
903 Campus Center 
A panel of TIDE Ambassador Faculty Fellows (Lara Al-Hariri, Chemistry; Lisa Fontes, University without Walls; Raeann Leblanc, Nursing; and Bryan Monesson-Olson, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology) will share how they have been successfully implementing inclusive and equitable teaching practices and learning activities in their large and online classes. Pizza and salad will be provided. Sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration required.
Gender-Inclusive Teaching: Fostering Gender Equality from Classroom to Syllabus
Wednesday, February 27th - 12:00-1:30pm
538 Goodell
Do you worry that your class discussion tends to be dominated by male students? Is your syllabus full of sources produced by men? Whatever your field, join us to learn strategies for your syllabus, class activities, and overall class atmosphere in order to nurture equality and provide an environment for female students to feel valued and confident. (Workshop is open to graduate students, postdocs, and faculty!) Pizza lunch will be served. 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.
Interview Strategies for Non-Academic Jobs
Thursday, February 21st - 10:00-11:30am
538 Goodell
Many people find interviewing stressful – but it doesn’t have to be!  This session will provide an overview of the interview process and offer preparation tips to help boost your confidence. Pre-registration required.
Intro to the Individual Development Plan (IDP) for Grad Students 
Wednesday, February 27th - 11:15am-12:45pm 
S330 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
The Individual Development Plan (IDP) provides students with a framework for building skills with intentionality and aligning graduate training with career aspirations. This workshop will introduce participants to the UMass IDP sections, recommend resources for assessing skills, interests, and values, and offer strategies for effective (“SMART”) goal setting. Pizza will be served. Pre-registration required.
Career Conversations: Understanding the Intersection of Science and Policy
Monday, March 4th - 2:30-3:30pm
S340 Life Science Laboratories
As a researcher, you likely know that science informs policy and vice versa, but how? Whether your future plans include continued research or pursuing a career in policy or science communication, you need a firm grasp on how science and policy intersect. In this session, Dr. Jesús Alvelo, UMass alum and current AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow hosted at the National Science Foundation, will talk about science policy careers and how policy impacts funding requests and research directions. Dr. Alvelo will offer two talks – register for one or both (his other talk can be found in Communication).
Tips for Negotiating a Non-Academic Job Offer
Tuesday, March 5th - 2:30-4:00pm
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.
Creating a Compelling Application (for a Graduate Assistantship or Internship)
Thursday, March 7th - 12:00-1:30pm
538 Goodell
You might not be on the job market yet, but you need to apply to a grad assistantship or internship! What are best practices for your cover letter and CV/resume? In this informational session, we will cover some strategies for tailoring your applications so that the employers can see what a great fit you are for the position! Pre-registration required.

Personal Development

Mindfulness: A Strategy to Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity
Wednesday, March 6th - 3:00-4:30pm
804-08 Campus Center
Have you ever tried to concentrate on a task, only to find your wandering mind fretting about an ever-expanding to-do list? Is your mood reactive, highly influenced by the environment around you? Practicing mindfulness is one way to reduce stress and enhance performance. In this session, Lori Tuominen will explain mindfulness and offer simple ways to incorporate mindfulness by using a variety of touch points, including the breath, visuals, sound, and movement. Lori holds a MS degree in Positive Organization Development and is an instructor for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Pre-registration required. 
A Leader’s Toolkit: Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Tuesday, March 12th – 11:30am-1:30pm
Location: TBD
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.