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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

Grants and fellowship programming will resume in late spring. Please check back! 


Summer 2019 Dissertation Writing Retreats
Application Deadline: April 15th
Make progress on your dissertation this summer! Open to graduate students who are at the dissertation-writing stage, this retreat offers extensive structured time to write and develop effective writing strategies. Throughout the retreat, graduate student writers will have sustained writing time; participate in a community of writers in order to build support and accountability; and experiment with best-practice writing skills for things like drafting, goal setting, and time management. Click here for more details and for the link to the application form. Completed applications must be received no later than 11:59pm on Monday, April 15, 2019.
Session 1: Fri., June 7th (9am-12pm) & Mon.-Thurs. (9am-5pm), June 10th-13th
Session 2: Fri., July 12th (9am-12pm) & Mon.-Thurs. (9am-5pm), July 15th-18th
Pomodoro Fridays
Fridays (March 22– April 26) - 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!
Creating Visuals Part 1: Getting Ideas Out of Your Head and Onto the Paper 
Thursday, March 21st - 2:30-3:45pm 
538 Goodell
Especially when ideas are new and we are grappling with lots of information, our thoughts don’t readily fit into paragraphs. Instead, we can make visual diagrams to organize our thoughts during the research and/or writing process. These visual diagrams range from text-heavy outlines to text-free pictures. They externalize the project, taking the pressure off of your memory to hold all of your complex thinking together. In this workshop, we will practice creating visuals on paper and with new digital applications. Pre-registration required.
3MT Community Day 
Saturday, March 23rd - 3:00-4:30pm 
Jones Public Library, Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is bringing the popular Three Minute Thesis (3MT) to the Amherst community! 3MT competitions have become a global phenomenon, offering graduate students the opportunity to communicate the significance of their research to a general audience, all in three minutes or less. Our Community Day will feature presentations by UMass finalists, with audience members voting on a People’s Choice recipient, who will be awarded $500. Come and cast your vote! The People’s Choice winner will be announced live, followed by a reception. More information is available on the Jones Library website.
Editing Clinic: Academic Prose CAN Be Good Writing!
Wednesday, March 27th - 2:45-4:45pm 
538 Goodell
Do you spend a lot of time fiddling with your words and sentences? Unsure how to fix things? Writing complex ideas in clear and concise Academic English is a demanding task! This clinic will introduce three different exercises for you to try editing your own work. Each exercise is calibrated to help you learn your own syntax, shake the dust out of your confusing sentences, and bring clarity of thought into the structure of your prose. One of the exercises will focus on reducing word count. Pre-registration required.
“What Do You Do?”: Communicating the Significance of Your Work
Monday, April 8th - 10:15-11:30am 
538 Goodell
Explaining the significance of your work can be a daunting task, whether you are taking to an advisor, a funder, or a grandparent! This workshop breaks down how to answer that question based on context. Whether you’re writing a grant proposal, conference abstract, job market materials, or just going around the room and saying what you do, this workshop will explore how to manage the limited time and space we often have to tell someone about our work. Pre-registration required.
Creating Visuals Part 2: Presenting Your Ideas to Your Audience
Thursday, April 11th - 12:00-1:15pm 
538 Goodell
Whether seen on handouts, posters, or slides, visual communication is almost always used to complement our research presentations. This workshop will discuss how a single slide can best convey information and the opportunities of crafting the narrative of your project across every slide in your presentation. 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.
TEFD Diversity Lunch Talk: Developing a Teaching Development Course for Graduate TAs/TOs
Tuesday, March 26th - 11:30am-1:00pm
805 Campus Center
Join TIDE Ambassador Faculty Fellow Brokk Toggerson (Physics) and graduate students Sara Feyzbakhsh and Jake Shechter as they share how they developed a seminar that supports new graduate TAs in teaching according to principles of active learning and managing issues of identity that often arise in classes. Sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration required.
10 Time Saving Ideas to Streamline Your Teaching 
Thursday, March 28th - 1:00-2:00pm
538 Goodell
Whether balancing your own coursework, research and writing, or multiple course sections, we can’t afford to let our teaching responsibilities overrun our lives - but we still want to do a good job and help our students. Learn tips to streamline your teaching preparation and communication with students and discuss what works for you with your fellow grad students and postdocs! Pre-registration required.
Discussions in Feminist Technology
Tuesday, April 2nd - 11:00am-1:00pm
Location TBA
Join UMass’s Instructional Innovation for a review of several feminist technology projects, recommendations, and tools in international activist spaces and discussion of how these conversations and methods may be relevant to the classroom space. Topics will include principles of technology access, safety and activist technology usage, and storytelling methodologies and will be drawn from the work of the Association for Progressive Communications. Sponsored by Instructional Innovation. Click here for more information and the link to register.
Implicit Bias and Microaggressions in the College Classroom, Part I
Tuesday, April 2nd - 2:30-4:00pm
805-09 Campus Center
This workshop will help graduate students, postdocs, and faculty participants understand the concepts of implicit bias, microaggressions, and stereotype threat, how these can manifest, and how they impact learning environments. Sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration required.
Implicit Bias and Microaggressions in the College Classroom, Part II
Tuesday, April 9th - 2:30-4:00pm
804-08 Campus Center 
In the second part of this workshop series on implicit bias and microaggressions, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty participants will be introduced to ways of challenging unconscious biases. They will also explore and share out strategies to effectively respond to microaggressions. (You do not need to attend both parts of this series, although you are certainly encouraged to do so!) Sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration required.
Teaching Portfolios and Statements: An Overview
Wednesday, April 10th - 12:30-1:30pm
538 Goodell
This workshop will explain how to develop a teaching portfolio that demonstrates your effectiveness as an instructor. Topics will include the purpose, content, and format of the teaching portfolio and development of a teaching statement. Please feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. 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.
Life After UMass: Immigration Panel Discussion
Tuesday, March 26th - 5:00-6:30pm
S330-340 Life Science Laboratories
Immigration attorneys from Curran, Berger & Kludt Immigration Law Firm will join Ken Reade from the UMass International Programs Office to discuss a variety of immigration topics, including employment-based visas, permanent residency, and green cards. Open to all students, scholars and postdocs. Co-sponsored by OPD, the International Programs Office (IPO) and Student Affairs and Campus Life. Pizza will be served and pre-registration is required.
Launch Your Job or Internship Search with Handshake
Wednesday, March 27th - 3:00-3:45pm 
538 Goodell
Did you realize that graduate students have access to Handshake, a platform where students can find jobs, internships, co-ops and helpful career resources? This session will talk about how to create a profile and utilize the system to identify employment and internship opportunities. Co-sponsored by UMass Career Services. Pre-registration required.
What’s Wrong with Your Cover Letter
Friday, April 5th - 11:30am-12:45pm
538 Goodell
Demonstrating “fit" is critical, especially when making a career pivot (such as when applying for alt-ac jobs): you have to be explicit about how your current skills and experiences as a grad student or postdoc translate to a new career field. This persuasive argument – that you are right for this job – is made in the cover letter. In this workshop, we’ll discuss common cover letter mistakes and discover some foolproof ways to write a cover letter that will make employers take notice. Pre-registration required.

Personal Development

From Student to Scholar 
Tuesday, March 26th - 2:30-3:45pm
538 Goodell
As you advance in your graduate career, you have to develop as an independent scholar – a change from our prior role as students. In this interactive workshop, we’ll use case studies to discuss best practices for the transition from student to dissertator. What goals do you need to accomplish? What hurdles are you preparing for? How do you negotiate with your advisor, as you take the lead on your own research while still under their guidance? Pre-registration required.
It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect, It Just Has to be Done
Wednesday, April 3rd - 2:30-3:30pm 
538 Goodell
Academic culture can make it seem that everything you produce must be perfect. But when is this pursuit of perfection really necessary and when is it a form of procrastination or a source of added stress? This session will offer tips to shake off the need for constant perfection and still produce work you are proud of. Pre-registration required.