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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 for the spring semester (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 a special professional development grant to support career advancement. 

Grants and Fellowships

Brown Bag: Cultivating Strong Relationships with Faculty
Monday, July 16th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
If you’re submitting a fellowship application, support from faculty is critical. This session will focus on soliciting letters of recommendation from faculty, seeking faculty feedback on your proposal draft, and using the application process to network with faculty. While geared towards students applying for the NSF GRFP, all graduate students and postdocs are welcome. Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration is required.
Shut Up and Write Tuesdays
Tuesdays, June 5th - Aug 14th (excluding July 3rd) - 9:00am-1:00pm 
Graduate Commons, 5th Floor 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 to reserve a 30-minute consultation here; on-site sign-ups are also available on a first-come, first-served 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.
Drop the Jargon and Get to the Point!
Monday, July 23rd - 12:00-1:30pm
538 Goodell
Strong communication is critical to your success at UMass and beyond, but learning to communicate with your peers and colleagues isn’t enough. How do audiences for grant applications, networking, public engagement or job interviews differ from traditional academic audiences? This session will offer strategies to craft clear, concise descriptions of your work relevant to these different audiences. We will also discuss UMass programs to help further develop your communication skills, such as the Graduate School’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT)© competition. Pizza lunch provided. Pre-registration is required.


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

Career Preparation

Faculty Careers: One Size Fits All?
Wednesday, July 11th - 10:30-11:30am
538 Goodell
Are you considering a faculty career? Do you think that all American colleges and universities are “pretty much” the same?  Think again! This session will provide an overview of higher education institutions, how faculty roles differ across them, and the qualities each value in job candidates. Pre-registration required.
How to Demonstrate “Fit” on the Academic Job Market
Tuesday, July 24th - 12:00-1:15pm
538 Goodell
Hundreds of job ads looking for an “Assistant Professor” will soon be flooding the internet and, as an applicant, you are faced with interpreting vague job descriptions and scrolling through college websites in hopes of finding something to help your application stand out from the pack. Learn to tailor your application in this workshop! We will look at how certain words in job ads carry important information and how these minor differences should change your application – especially the cover letter. Please feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.
The Academic Cover Letter FAQ
Tuesday, July 24th - 1:30-2:15pm
538 Goodell
Applying for faculty jobs is stressful enough without all the little decisions that go into crafting the perfect cover letter: Do I use letterhead? To whom do I address the letter? How do I even begin? Come to this short info session for some tips on your cover letter and get all your questions answered! Pre-registration required.
Exploring Non-Academic Careers in STEM 
Thursday, July 26th – begins at 9:30am
135 Integrated Sciences Building 
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 scientific editing, product strategy, polymer development, and research and development across a variety of sectors (contract research organizations, instrumentation, water technology, publishing, and government agencies). Speakers (including two alumni) hold advanced degrees in biomedical engineering, biomedical science, chemistry, and chemical and biomolecular engineering. A morning Career Panel will be followed by a limited seating Networking Luncheon. After lunch, Dr. Juli Klemm (Acting Chief of the Cancer Informatics Branch, NCI) and Dr. Monique Johnson (Research Chemist, NIST) will talk about their careers in government agencies. For more information, view the event flyer and speaker biosPre-registration is required.
The Research Statement (and the Academic Cover Letter)
Tuesday, July 31st - 12:00-1:15pm
538 Goodell
How can you make your research stand out among a sea of applications? Participants will draft language about their research that can be used in all facets of the academic application, including the research statement, cover letter, and in interviews. Please feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.

Personal Development

Brown Bag: Understanding and Combating Impostor Syndrome 
Wednesday, June 27th -12:00-1:00pm 
528 Goodell
Impostor syndrome is a common experience, characterized by thinking that you are not “good enough” or your success is an accident, rather than result of personal achievement. Don’t let impostor syndrome hold you back! This interactive workshop presents strategies to recognize and productively deal with these feelings. Bring your lunch—dessert provided. Pre-registration required.
Get Back on Track and Meet Your Summer Goals
Tuesday, July 10th - 11:30am-12:30pm
538 Goodell
It’s mid-July! How is your summer plan going? Panicking about how little time there is left until fall? There is still enough time to make substantial progress on whatever you were hoping to accomplish, but you need to regroup. Use this workshop as a way to check-in: revisit your goals, evaluate what has worked (and what hasn’t), and update your work plans for the remaining weeks of summer. Pre-registration required.
Mentoring Workshop
Tuesday, July 31st – Thursday, August 2nd, 9:00am - 12:00pm 
N610 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who would like to maximize the effectiveness of their mentoring relationships are invited to register for a three-day workshop, led by trained faculty facilitators and based on programs developed by the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN). Facilitated discussions are structured around interesting case studies and common challenges. View the flyer for more information. The workshop is capped at 12 participants, so register soon: