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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 summer! Check back often, as events are continually added and updated.  

To contact us please call 413-545-6001 or email opd@grad.umass.edu. 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

Anatomy of a Successful NSF Proposal 
Thursday, August 1st - 11:30am-12:30pm 
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 required.
 
Personal Statements vs. Research Proposals
Thursday, August 8th - 12:00-1:00pm 
528 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, all graduate students and postdocs are welcome. Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration required.
 
Convincing Funders That Your Work Matters
Wednesday, August 21st - 12:00-1:00pm 
538 Goodell
A critical component of any funding application is communicating the contribution that your work will make to academia and society. Using NSF’s Intellectual Merits and Broader Impacts as our guide, we will brainstorm strategies to communicate the significance of your work to diverse audiences in any type of funding proposal. Bring your lunch—dessert provided! Pre-registration required.
 
Grant and Fellowship Writing Clinic
Friday, August 23rd - 10:00am-2:00pm
538 Goodell
Summer is almost over—how are your fall grant and fellowship applications coming along? Our Writing Clinic provides space for you to write, with help on hand to answer questions or provide quick feedback on your draft. This is a drop-in event, come for as little or as long as you want. Fuel your writing with coffee and light refreshments in the morning and a pizza lunch. Pre-registration required. 
 

Communication

Shut Up & Write Tuesdays
Tuesdays (June 4th - Aug 13th, excluding July 2nd) - 9:00am-1:30pm
Graduate Commons, 5th Floor, Du Bois Library
Writing alongside others is a best practice for academic writing! This weekly drop-in provides time and space to write while caffeinated - come late or leave early. Optionally, graduate writing consultants will be available to meet with writers to discuss any type of writing or stage in the writing process. Sign up here to reserve a 45-minute consultation ; on-site sign-ups are also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Co-sponsored with the Writing Center. One pre-registration  for the series is required; attend one week or attend them all!
 
Pomodoro Wednesdays
Wednesdays (June 5th - July 31st, excluding June 26th & July 3rd) - 1:00-3:00pm 
538 Goodell
Do you need to boost your productivity? Join OPD for Pomodoro Wednesdays! 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 Wednesday, we’ll do four Pomodoros. The first round will start promptly at 1pm, so arrive beforehand if you’d like to settle in and get warmed up. One pre-registration  for the series is required; attend one week or attend them all!
 
Checkpoint Wednesdays
Wednesdays (June 5th - July 31st, excluding June 26th & July 3rd) - 3:00-4:00pm
538 Goodell
Accountability is a best practice for academic writing. Each Wednesday, we’ll reflect on the previous week and plan the upcoming week. How have you spent your time? What is working? What are the obstacles on horizon? After reflecting, we’ll discuss, strategizing for both productivity in the week ahead and your long-term writing goals. One pre-registration  for the series is required; attend one week or attend them all!
 
Writing the “Good-Enough” Dissertation
Thursday, July 25th - 2:30-4:00pm
538 Goodell
What makes a dissertation "done"? In this workshop, we'll discuss the difference between an in-process draft and the draft used for the defense milestone. In particular, we'll discuss vocabulary that you can use to both communicate with your adviser/committee and to guide reflection on your process. Pre-registration required.
 
Making Great Figures
Friday, July 26th - 1:00-2:00pm 
538 Goodell 
Making great figures takes time and effort, but there are some tricks to get you there faster. Are you using the right format? Are you considering the audience? What tools are available and best-suited for your data? Come take this opportunity to discuss the answers to these questions and work with your data to produce amazing figures for your presentations and publications. Pre-registration required.

Teaching

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.
 
Teach in No Time 2.0
Tuesdays (July 9th - July 30th) - 3:00-4:30pm 
528 Goodell
Planning a syllabus for Fall? We will join the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity  for an interactive webinar series with Dr. Chavella Pittman. Over these 4 weeks, you will create weekly course topics, lesson plans for the first two weeks, and course assignments – thinking about increasing teaching effectiveness while also reducing preparation and grading time. While you could watch this webinar on your own (UMass is an institutional member of the NCFDD), come work in the same space as your peers and join a community devoted to teaching! 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.
 
Diversity Statements for the Academic Job Market
Thursday, July 25th - 12:00-1:30pm
538 Goodell
When you are applying to faculty jobs, you are likely be asked to submit a diversity statement. This workshop will help you get started writing (or revising): we’ll discuss the two things that every statement should include, as well as tips for getting started! Please feel free to bring your lunch; snacks will be provided. Pre-registration required.
 
Interview Strategies for Non-Academic Jobs
Wednesday, July 31st - 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 required.
 
Intro to the Individual Development Plan (IDP) for Grad Students
Thursday, August 1st - 10:00-11:30am 
 S330 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
The Individual Development Plan (IDP) provides students with a framework for building skills with intentionality and aligning graduate training with career aspirations. This workshop will introduce participants to the UMass IDP sections, recommend resources for assessing skills, interests, and values, and offer strategies for effective (“SMART”) goal setting. Light refreshments will be served. Pre-registration required.
 
The Academic Cover Letter
Thursday, August 1st - 1:00-2:30pm
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 workshop for some tips on your cover letter and get all your questions answered! Pre-registration required.
 
The Research Statement (and the Academic Cover Letter)
Monday, August 5th - 12:30-2:00pm
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. (Optional: The room will be available from 2-4pm for you to stay and work on drafting and revising your research statement. Participants will also be invited to a research statement peer review session on August 6th at 10am.) Pre-registration required.
 
The Teaching Statement (and the Academic Cover Letter)
Tuesday, August 6th - 12:30-2pm
538 Goodell
How do you talk about teaching on the academic job market? What are search committees looking for? In this workshop, we’ll look at examples of teaching statements and discuss what works (and what doesn’t)! We will also start to draft language about teaching that you can use in teaching statements, cover letters, or interviews. (Optional: The room will be available from 2-4pm for you to stay and work on drafting and revising your teaching statement. Participants will also be invited to a teaching statement peer review session on August 7th at 10am.) Pre-registration required.
 
Diversity Statements for the Academic Job Market
Wednesday, August 7th - 12:30-2:00pm
538 Goodell
When you are applying to faculty jobs, you are likely going to be asked to submit a diversity statement. This workshop will help you get started writing (or revising): we’ll discuss the two things that every statement should include, as well as tips and examples! (Optional: The room will be available from 2-4pm for you to stay and work on drafting and revising your diversity statement. Participants will also be invited to a diversity statement peer review session on August 8th at 10am.) Pre-registration required.
 
The Academic Cover Letter 
Thursday, August 8th - 12:30-2:00pm
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 workshop for some tips on your cover letter and get all your questions answered! (Optional: The room will be available from 2-4pm for you to stay and work on drafting and revising your cover letter. Participants will also be invited to a cover letter peer review session on August 9th at 10am.) Pre-registration required.
 
 
 

Personal Development

A Leader’s Toolkit: Developing an Effective Negotiation Strategy
Wednesday, July 24th - 11:30am-1:30pm
S330 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
Graduate and postdoctoral training (and life!) require the careful balancing of relationships and resources. Learning what to ask for, how to ask, and when to respectfully say no are essential survival skills. This session will offer a framework for negotiation that works for everyone in every situation…including power mismatches! Improving your negotiation skills can increase your confidence to engage and allow you to proactively manage your academic and professional trajectories. A pizza lunch will be provided and pre-registration required.
 
Time Management Strategies
Friday, July 26th - 11:00am-12:00pm
538 Goodell
Are you not making progress on your academic goals? Do you find yourself struggling with upcoming deadlines and long to-do lists? We will share tips to address these challenges and maximize productivity. Pre-registration required. 
 
A Leader’s Toolkit: Navigating Difficult Conversations
Wednesday, August 7th - 11:30am-1:30pm
N610 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
When you sense conflict, do you address it or hide? Have you ever had a conversation go terribly wrong, only to ask yourself afterwards, “What just happened?” You are not alone! This session will talk about the elements that can make a conversation difficult, why we avoid them, and common reasons for their derailment. This session will provide strategies to reduce the fear and anxiety associated with difficult conversations so you can engage with greater confidence. A pizza lunch will be provided and pre-registration required.
 
Webinar: Cultivating Your Network of Mentors, Sponsors & Collaborators
Thursday, August 8th - 2:00-3:30pm
Online!
Are you struggling to cultivate mentoring relationships? Do you know the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? Join the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity  for a webinar with Dr. Badia Ahad that will help you map your current mentoring network and plan how to expand your existing network to meet your current needs. (UMass is an institutional member of the NCFDD, so you can join for free and access all of their online resources.) Pre-registration  required.