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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

Securing Predissertation Funding
Monday, February 12th - 2:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Winning a nationally-competitive fellowship early in your graduate career can have a profound impact on your future success. In addition to providing financial resources, these prestigious awards are often stepping stones for larger grants. This session will provide information on fellowship opportunities and offer tips on how to develop competitive proposals. Pre-registration required.
Grant Series Part II: Framing & Writing the Proposal
Friday, February 23rd - 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—come to one event or all three! A pizza lunch is provided. Pre-registration required.
Pizza & Proposals
Monday, February 26th - 12:00-1:30pm 
538 Goodell
Soliciting feedback on a draft of your funding proposal is critical but not always easy. Our peer review session will provide a low-stakes opportunity to receive high-impact feedback. You bring the proposal, we bring the pizza! This session is ideal for those preparing applications for the Graduate Schools Predissertation or Fieldwork Grants. Pre-registration is required; further instructions will be emailed upon registration. 


Working with Co-Authors: The Ins and Outs of a Successful Writing Relationship 
Tuesday, February 13th - 3:00-4:15pm
538 Goodell
Navigating the delicate partnerships of co-authoring with peers and even advisors and faculty members is difficult. How do we maintain professional relationships when deadlines are fast approaching? How do we provide useful feedback to someone with years of writing experience? This workshop will provide you with concrete strategies that will make both what you say and how you say it more effective for any audience and will help you mitigate those difficult moments that come often in co-author relationships. Pre-registration required.
Understanding Your Field’s Expectations (Through the Reading Process)
Tuesday, February 20th - 2:30-3:45pm
528 Goodell
Interpreting disciplinary expectations for our writing can be difficult, but breaking down a published article can provide a lot of clarity for how successful authors in our field follow the (often unspoken) standards of our discipline. Come to this workshop with an article you are reading from your field, and have the opportunity to analyze its purpose, audience, and scholarly voice and style. You can then use this analysis to create a framework for your own writing. Pre-registration required.
Pomodoro Writing Clinic 
Friday, February 23rd - 2:00-4:00pm 
538 Goodell
Do you need some time to just work on your stuff? In this combined workshop and work session, we will briefly outline strategies for beginning and ending a work session—and strategies for how to make sure you have a next work session planned. Using the Pomodoro technique, we'll do several rounds of working for twenty-five minutes and breaking for five minutes (snacks provided). We'll end with time to plan out your next work session. Think of it as a mini writing retreat—or a chance to hold yourself accountable to an afternoon of writing. Pre-registration required.
Turning Your Work into a Conference Presentation
Monday, February 26th - 9:00-10:30am
528 Goodell
You wrote a pretty good research paper for your class, you have a promising argument and a solid first draft from independent research, or you’re ready to take a draft of a chapter to the next level. Now what? Consider converting that work into a conference presentation or poster. This workshop offers concrete strategies to begin revising your writing for a conference-style presentation while considering how you can craft a successful abstract out of what you already have written. Pre-registration required. 


Creating Inclusive Assignments & Assessments for Diverse Students (TEFD Diversity Lunch Talk)
Wednesday, February 14th - 11:30am-1:00pm 
168C Campus Center 
We all learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways. This session will offer flash presentations by four UMass faculty (from Economics, Comparative Literature, Political Science, and Education) who will demonstrate a range of ways instructors can create assignments and assessments that provide students various paths to learn and that motivate diverse students. Open to faculty, post-docs, and grad students. Pizza lunch will be served. Sponsored by TEFD. Please note the new date of Feb. 14!  Pre-registration required.
Grading Writing (Or, How I Learned to Stop Copyediting My Students’ Papers)
Thursday, March 1st - 12:00-1:30pm 
528 Goodell
This workshop will provide a general overview of grading strategies as well as specific methods for giving timely, relevant, and productive feedback on short or long writing assignments. After learning about the varieties of possible feedback, attendees will discuss strategies for writing comments and using grading time efficiently. Co-sponsored with the Writing Center. Pre-registration required. 

Career Preparation

Resume Basics for the Non-Academic Job
Wednesday, February 14th - 10:00-11:30am
538 Goodell
It’s time to show your resume some love! This session will talk about the differences between a CV and a resume, help you understand how employers screen resumes, and provide tips for making yours stand out. Pre-registration required.
Life After UMass: Immigration Hot Topics for Visas and Employment
Thursday, February 22nd - 5:00-7:00pm 
S131 Integrative Learning Center (ILC)
Immigration attorney Dan Berger, from Curran & Berger Immigration Law Firm, will join Ken Reade from the UMass International Programs Office to discuss a variety of immigration topics, including employment-based visa strategies and permanent residency green cards. Open to all students and postdocs. Co-sponsored by the International Programs Office (IPO) and Student Affairs and Campus Life. Pre-registration required.
Intro to the Individual Development Plan (IDP) for Grad Students 
Wednesday, February 28th - 11:30am-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a career-planning tool that helps students connect their academic training with career aspirations. This hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the IDP sections, offer resources for assessing skills, interests, and values, and discuss the importance of SMART goals and mentoring networks. Pre-registration is required. 
Career Conversation: Dr. Stefan Gross, Agios Pharmaceuticals
Thursday, April 19th - 3:00-4:30pm 
S330 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
Stefan Gross, Ph.D. has served as biochemistry lead and launch team member in multiple startup ventures and is currently Director, Enzymology at Agios Pharmaceuticals. As the second employee, he played a key role in building Agios from a paper concept to a multibillion dollar public and commercial company that produced six first-in-class clinical compounds within six years of launch. Learn more! In this session, Dr. Gross will talk about his own career trajectory and offer tips to help graduate students and postdocs prepare for interviews and negotiate job offers. This is an open discussion, so bring your questions! Pre-registration is required.

Personal Development

Get Organized with Bullet Journaling
Thursday, February 22nd - 10:00-11:00am 
538 Goodell
Do you have a million little to do lists floating around and need an organized way to bring them all together? This session will introduce you to the world of bullet journaling and provide tips for getting and staying organized. Pre-registration is required.
Best Practices for Effective Email
Tuesday, February 27th - 10:00-11:00am 
538 Goodell
Achieving success in graduate school and beyond requires strong communication skills. Do you struggle to write clear and concise emails or find that your emails are not getting you the results you are looking for? This session will offer tips for communicating effectively through email. Pre-registration is required.