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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 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 Series, Part II: Framing & Writing the Proposal
Tuesday, June 6th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
A successful grant proposal requires good ideas that are organized well. This session will outline various application elements, provide tips to craft a clear, cohesive proposal, and discuss common reasons proposals fail. This is the second offering in a three-part series, but attendance at the previous session is not required to participate. Lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required.
National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants Workshop
Thursday, June 8th - 9:00-11:30am 
538 Goodell
NSF dissertation grants provide up to $20,000 to support doctoral research but the application process can be daunting. Geared toward students planning to submit in late summer or fall, this session will provide tips and tools for crafting a competitive application. Our faculty panel will share insight from the reviewer’s perspective and a research librarian will demystify the required Data Management Plan. Light refreshments provided; pre-registration required.
Brown Bag: Anatomy of a Successful NSF Grant Proposal 
Friday, June 9th - 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.
Grant Series, Part III: Soliciting Feedback & Revising
Tuesday, June 20th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
Want to turn a good funding application into a great one? Solicit feedback on your writing and make time for revisions. Come learn techniques, and get a dose of confidence, to accomplish these critical tasks. This is the final offering in a three-part series, but attendance at the previous sessions is not required to participate. Lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required.
Brown Bag: Personal Statements vs. Research Proposals
Wednesday, June 28th - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
Many funding applications require a personal statement in addition to a research proposal, but how do these differ? This informal, interactive session will help you “sell” yourself through the personal statement and craft a compelling and realistic research proposal. 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.


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.
So You’re Going to Finally Submit that Article this Summer
Thursday, June 15 - 12:00-1:30pm
528 Goodell
Whether you are preparing for the academic job market in the fall or simply hoping to get some writing done, summer is an ideal time to focus on major side projects - like finally submitting that article! This workshop will help you break down the work needed to translate some research into a publishable article and will lay out a reasonable 8-week plan to meet your goals. (Although focused on articles and issues of publication, writers working on any large project are welcome!) Snacks will be provided; please feel free to bring a brown bag lunch. Pre-registration is required.
Developing Your Elevator Pitch
Friday, June 16th - 11:00am-12:00pm 
538 Goodell
The ability to craft an effective elevator pitch is an essential life-long skill. Whether your goal is to communicate the relevance of your work, recruit a potential collaborator, or impress a prospective employer, success hinges on your ability to articulate what you are doing and why it is worth doing. In this first session, participants will learn about elevator pitch structure and draft a baseline elevator pitch. Participants are strongly encouraged to return for next week’s practice session with OPD staff members. Pre-registration is required.
Practicing Your Elevator Pitch
Thursday, June 22nd - 10:30-11:30am
538 Goodell
Perhaps you will be networking at conferences this summer or anticipate job interviews in the near future – it’s never too early to practice your elevator pitch! Join the Office of Professional Development (OPD) staff for this opportunity to practice in an informal, supportive environment. We will provide feedback and tips for improving your pitch and tailoring it for different purposes. Pre-registration is required.


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

Career Preparation

The Job Search Process: What works? What doesn’t?
Thursday, June 8th - 1:00-2:30pm OR 
Tuesday, June 13th - 11:30am-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
This session welcomes participants at ALL stages of study, from early career graduate students who are not sure when/how to start to those actively searching but feeling “stuck” along the way. This foundational session will encourage participants to view the job search as a series of inter-connected processes that require thoughtful planning and execution. This deeper understanding can help students and postdocs navigate this process with greater confidence and success. Pre-registration is required. 
Wanted: Assistant Professor 
Wednesday, June 21 - 12:00-1:30pm 
528 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 be reflected in your application. Snacks will be provided; please feel free to bring a brown bag lunch. 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 
Monday, June 26th - 11:30am-1:00pm
168 Campus Center 
This session will discuss different networking strategies for small and large conferences and offer tips to make the most of poster sessions, oral presentations, social events, business meetings and committee participation. Attendees will also learn about the process of networking follow-up, and actions to take before, during, and after the conference. This session will be led by Dr. Surita Bhatia, Professor of Chemistry at Stony Brook University. A pizza lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required.