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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: Anatomy of a Successful NSF Grant Proposal
Tuesday, May 22nd - 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 proposals submitted by UMass grad students. While geared towards students applying for the NSF GRFP, all graduate students and postdocs are welcome. Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration requested.
National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants Workshop
Wednesday, May 23rd - 1:00-2:30pm 
538 Goodell
NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (DDRIG) can provide up to $20,000 to support doctoral research, but the application process can be daunting. Geared toward students planning to submit a DDRIG application in summer or fall, this session will provide tips and tools for crafting a competitive application. Light refreshments provided; pre-registration required.
Set Yourself Up for Summer Research & Writing: Select the Best Technology to Support Your Project
Wednesday, May 16th - 11:00am-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
Looking to get a jump start on your research plans for the summer? In this workshop, we will present different citation and documentation management systems and discuss the ways they do and don’t support writing and research habits. We'll explore RefWorks, Zotero, Mendeley, Evernote, and Scrivener. Attendees will have time to reflect on their writing and research processes, their goals for the summer, and apply those reflections to the management systems that might work best for their process. Co-sponsored by the UMass Writing Center. A pizza lunch will be provided. Pre-registration 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. A sign up to reserve a 30-minute consultation is forthcoming; on-site sign-ups will also be 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.


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

Career Preparation

Interview Strategies for Non-Academic Jobs
Wednesday, May 23rd - 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 is required.

Personal Development

Planning for Summer Productivity 
Thursday, May 17th - 12:00-1:30pm
538 Goodell
Summer offers stretches of uninterrupted work time, but too often such long periods of unstructured time can leave us feeling overwhelmed, leading to work paralysis and idleness. Don’t let your summer pass in a daze; let OPD help you plan for a summer of productive days! Whether you are still deciding what you need to do this summer or just figuring out how you are going to get it all done, this workshop will help you refocus on your long-term goals, make a plan for the summer, and identify the support and routines that can help you! Pizza lunch will be served. Pre-registration required.
How to Ask a Good Question
Thursday, May 17th - 2:00-3:00pm
538 Goodell
Have you heard “there are no dumb questions” but don’t think that applies to you? Are you hesitant to speak because you don’t know how to ask your question? Many people only engage with their own thoughts because of fear of being ridiculed.  This workshop explores the development of questions and their strategic uses in classes, seminars, interviews, and personal interactions. Pre-registration required.
Finding and Engaging with Mentors, Sponsors and Advisors
Thursday, May 31st - 10:00-11:30am
538 Goodell
Research has shown that mentors play a vital role in future career success, but how do you go about finding mentors? What are the differences between mentors, sponsors, and advisors? This session will help participants understand these roles and provide tips for building successful mentoring relationships. Pre-registration is required.