Check In with Your Afterword Hosts

Welcome back to Afterword!

This week we thought, as your hosts on Afterword, we would introduce ourselves and give you a little background about us. All three of us graduated from UVM, so we know what it’s like to be in your shoes and we wanted to share our stories with you.

We’ll be checking with other alumni and your own classmates throughout the year – so take a look at our stories and stay tuned for even more in the coming weeks!

What was your first year out like?

My first year out was a struggle to find a career identity. As an English major, I had skills, but was uncertain how to put them to use in a career sense. I moved back home with my parents to save money with a rough plan to go to graduate school, but in reality I should have either stayed in Burlington or moved somewhere else to get some internships and career work.

Now I always tell graduating students, go where you want to be, even if you have to rough it – basically don’t play it safe.

While at home (this was 2010/11) I binge watched TV shows on DVDs rented from local libraries and helped my dad with yard-work and read books in my spare time when I wasn’t working.

I visited friends in Burlington a lot and moved back up about 11 months after I left. Soon after I started graduate school at UVM. Everything worked out and I’m still living in Burlington.

If you could go back, what would you change about your experience at UVM?

I wish I got involved in EVERYTHING I could, more clubs, more intramural sports etc. – Now I volunteer at WRUV to sort of make up for missing that as an undergrad. I’m lucky to have such a cool opportunity.

 

What was your first year out like?

When I graduated from UVM in 2015, I had absolutely no plan.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I had a part time job at Macy’s working in the stock room, and enough cash to justify staying in Vermont while I began my search for a full time position. Within a month, I was working full time on the floor at Macy’s and with every closing shift I knew in my bones that retail was not for me.

When a Development Assistant position opened at the UVM Foundation, I decided to apply for it – A change of pace. I’m not sure what I expected when I took that position, but it didn’t fully live up to what I was hoping I would find in a job.

I told myself I would stick it out and stay for a full year. When I began my job search again, a year later, I realized how much I had learned about myself.

My job search didn’t go anywhere fast. Luckily, Six months later I was approached about moving into the Assistant Director of Annual Giving position at the Foundation. I love living in Vermont post-UVM, and was thrilled to have an exciting new opportunity to stay.

If you could go back, what would you change about your experience at UVM?

I would have gotten more involved with student groups. I found the people I loved, and I stuck with them. But, that doesn’t mean I found the THING that I loved. I think that if I had been a bit more outgoing and involved with things I may have found something that I was truly passionate about.

Same goes for my studies – I always envisioned myself going on to get higher degrees, but I never found the right mentor relationship with my professors, and didn’t find the thing that I loved enough to get me there.

But hey, let’s be real. Hindsight is 20/20, and I had a lot of growing up to do (I hope I still do!) and if I was 18 again I would probably make the same mistakes all over again. We’re all just the sum of our experiences, and that’s okay!

Everybody give yourself a break- you’re not going to know the answers right now, and that’s fine. Let’s enjoy finding the way together.

 

What was your first year out like?

After I graduated I had no idea what I was going to do professionally. I had an unpaid internship doing some graphic design work with a local non-profit animal rescue but other than that I didn’t have a plan.

I got in touch with one of my old professors who I had become close with and she offered me an opportunity to be her teaching assistant for her digital art class. It was my favorite class that I took at UVM so I couldn’t say no. Through that experience I got to work with students and her on various graphic design projects.

From there I fell in love with graphic design and I knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life!

After TAing I got two other internships, paid this time (woo!) as a graphic design intern for the University of Vermont Foundation, spoiler it ended up turning into a full-time position, hence why I’m here, and the other one was at Meredith Corporation working with EatingWell magazine.

I was fortunate enough to get offered a position at UVMF after interning there for a year and have been there ever since.

If you could go back, what would you change about your experience at UVM?

If I could go back, there would be a few things I would change. For one, and this is a big one, I would have started out as a declared studio art major. Since I started out as a mechanical engineering major I had to do a lot of catching up after switching half way through my junior year and on top of that I could not afford to go to school for longer than four years.

Had I taken this path to begin with, I probably would’ve been able to take more of the art classes I wanted to take, instead of one that just fit into my schedule. Since I switched so late and was taking summer classes to catch up, I didn’t get any internship experience while in school because of my schedule.

This delayed my job search as well because most jobs now you need previous experience and I had none. Graphic design is an extremely competitive field and you need experience to even be considered.

I also would have loved to travel abroad and get involved in more groups and activities on campus to gain experience.

But all in all it ended up working out even though it took longer than I expected to get a full-time job but I did it.

My advice to you all is to stick it out! It took me about a year and a half to get a position that I liked so don’t give up!


Would you like to be part of our Check In posts? Head over to the Tell Your Story tab at the top of the page and submit your story or if you have a friend that is doing something interesting refer them to be featured!

Checking in with William Lemos

This week we checked in with one of your classmates, William Lemos who is doing exciting things in Boston. Read what he had to say about his first year out!

What are you up to in your first year out of UVM?

Since leaving Burlington I have been BUSY!

I’m a full time graduate student at Suffolk University working on a dual degree in Public Administration and Political Science. My focus is on government and professional politics. I’ve worked as a Graduate Fellow for the Universities Office of Student Leadership and Involvement, supporting their Fraternity and Sorority Life community. This past semester, I had the opportunity to be an associate intern at The Blue Lab, a political consulting group for campaigns in the Greater Boston and Massachusetts area.

When I’m not supporting Suffolk students or future politicians, I’m a Graduate RA for a fraternity at MIT.

Having my hand in a lot of different cookie jars has been both existing and exhausting at times but also immensely fulfilling. Every day is an entire new adventure and I honestly never really know what I’m going to have on my plate when I wake up in the morning.

I haven’t forgotten, though, the lessons on self-care and mindfulness that UVM taught me. I make time to focus on myself be it with early morning workouts or walks along the Charles River.

What are you looking forward to in the next year? What do you think will be your biggest challenge? 

One year from now, I’ll (hopefully) will have finished my degrees and will be graduating from Suffolk. Where the road will take me after that moment, I haven’t entirely figured out yet.

Will I be in Boston? Will I even be in New England? Better yet, will I be employed?

These are the big challenges and obstacle that are ahead of me in the year to come. Even with all this possible uncertainty, I’ll keep in mind the wise words from UVM Orientation: Be a duck!

What are you most proud of since you graduated?

Since graduating, I’m both grateful and thankful to still be able to work with undergraduate students through my roles at Suffolk University and MIT.

Being able to pass on what I have learned and share my experiences has been fulfilling and gratifying. The conversations that I’ve had about life, lived experiences, and the future with the students that I’ve worked with have been opening to me and, hopefully, supportive for them.

Being able to give back is all I want to do and that’s just what I’m doing now.


We are just a few weeks away from welcoming the Class of 2018 to Afterword!

Share your own first year out story with us we’ll tell it to the newest group of UVM alumni. Or, if you have a friend who has an awesome first-year-out story, we want to feature them on the blog too!

My First Year Out- Cara Stapleford ‘ 17

Graduation weekend is upon us, the Class of 2018 is getting ready for the big day, and it is officially your one year grad-a-versary. Congrats!

And there are only a few weeks left of Afterword posts for your class, so with that in mind, we are featuring another one of your classmates this week: Cara Stapleford.

Cara shares what she has been up to in her first year out and what it’s been like staying in Vermont after graduation. Enjoy!

Describe your first year out:

It’s crazy to think that graduation was already a full year ago. This year has been a huge year of growth and learning for me.

After graduating in May, I moved to Winooski and worked as a nanny last summer. I love kids and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and I ended up quitting but I learned a lot about myself during that time.

Although I was bummed (not to mention the fact that I had no income) it was a blessing in disguise because I was able to enjoy the beautiful Vermont summer. I spent a lot of time hiking, biking, exploring swimming holes, and going to concerts. There is really nothing as amazing as a Vermont summer.

In September, I began serving in the ECO AmeriCorps program with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. This program places service members at sites around the state that are focused on improving water quality and reducing waste in Vermont. I have been serving at the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District in Montpelier as their Community Zero Waste Assistant.

This program has provided me with so many unique and amazing opportunities. As a part of their outreach team, I assist with waste reduction efforts throughout the district’s 19-member towns. My main project for the year has been to plan and implement a series of Repair Café’s – events where participants can bring broken household items to be fixed for free – which reduces the number of items sent to the landfill and promotes community sustainability.

In addition to that, I’ve been assisting with compost workshops, helping to develop a community compost site, and have become a certified Vermont Master Composter. I’ve met some amazing people through this program – professional connections as well as lifelong friends. It’s been an amazing way for me to give back to the community through something that I am so passionate about.

What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

As rewarding as this year has been, it has also been really challenging. During my sophomore, junior, and senior year of college, I only had classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Transitioning from a 2-day school week to a full time 40 hour per week office position was pretty rough at first. It took me awhile to adjust to that plus a 45-minute commute to and from Montpelier every day.

Over time, it’s gotten a lot easier. It also helps that I love what I’m doing. I’ve started taking the bus to and from Montpelier and I bring a book with me. My bus time has become my “me” time. I now treasure my weekends and those occasional days off more than anything. But I have to admit, as much as I have gotten used to it and figured out how to fit in all those other things like going grocery shopping, going to the gym, etc., my laundry normally doesn’t get done until I have absolutely no clothes left to wear.

What did you learn from this experience?

I’ve learned a lot over the past year. I’ve grown a lot both personally and professionally. I’ve learned to let things go. Sometimes that laundry isn’t going to get done or I’m not going to be able to get to the gym everyday but that’s O.K. I’m doing the best that I can trying to navigate the post-grad world.

I’ve also really learned how to budget both time and money. Living on an AmeriCorps budget can be challenging but it’s taught me a lot about money management. I can’t take myself out to dinner every day like I’d like to, but I’ve become a really good cook because of that!

What are you doing now?

Right now, I’m just happy that the warm weather has finally arrived! I’m looking forward to another summer in Vermont.

I am currently studying to take the GRE and plan to apply to grad school in the fall. I also just applied to be a snowboard instructor for next winter. I have a community garden plot with a friend and we’ve been growing little veggie babies. I love getting my hands in the dirt.

My service term ends in August and I’ll be moving to New York but other than that, things are pretty up in the air right now.

Any advice?

My advice is that it’s okay to say no to others so you can say YES to yourself more. I’m a people pleaser and a yes person, which can be good and bad. I’ve been learning that it’s okay to say no to others so that I can do more things for myself that I actually want to do. It’s given me more freedom and allowed me to pursue my interests. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself when you give yourself the time to do so.

Know someone who has had a cool first year out? They can be featured on Afterword.

My First Year Out – Travel Edition Part II

With graduation for the Class of 2018 right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to check in with two of your classmates.

This week we caught up with recent 2017 alums, Emily Scott and Emma Squier, who have spent their first year out traveling and teaching. Take a look to see what they’ve been up to!

We’ll start with Emily’s story.

Sa-wat-dee-ka from Thailand! My name is Emily Scott and I graduated from UVM in the spring of 2017 with my Bachelors degree in Social Work!

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since graduation and I’m so looking forward to heading up there for a visit this summer! My 4 years in Burlington were everything I could have hoped for and more, and I find myself missing the mountains, the food, the people and the community every day.

Emma and I met freshman year and quickly became best friends and roommates. We bonded over a shared love for New World, Church Street, yoga and travel. In March 2017 as graduation approached, we both started thinking of applying to teach English in Thailand.

A few weeks after applying, we were both accepted to the same program! This program, CIEE teach, and their partner company in Thailand, OEG, helped us to obtain visas, connect with our schools, sort out our work permits and more.

When October rolled around, I flew from JFK and met Emma in Doha, Qatar to fly to Bangkok. Once in Bangkok we took a 12 hour bus up to our rural town, Chiang Kham, in the Phayao province of Thailand.

I taught nursery school (3 years old) to P6 (6th grade) at a small private school called Sathitwittaya Chiangkham School! Teaching English to 300 different students in more than 10 different classes was extremely challenging, but my students and I soon found ways to communicate through body language, smiles, mixed Thai/English and lots of drawing. Teaching ESL taught me a lot about patience, having an open heart and an open mind, and how to take everything one day at a time.

It was so sad to say goodbye to my students a few weeks ago, and I feel so privileged to have been welcomed into their school and their culture as “Teacha Emily” these past 5 months!

Once we finished teaching, Emma and I traveled to Laos for a week. Laos was absolutely breathtaking and so different from what we experienced living in Thailand. From mountains and waterfalls, to the capital city, the people are so kind and the food is so fresh and delicious.

After Laos, my parents came to see Thailand and we traveled to Chiang Mai, Krabi and Bangkok for 10 days before they headed back to New York! It was wonderful to see them and spend time together after being away from home for so long.

Now Emma and I are back in the southern islands of Thailand for a week before continuing our adventure in Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Australia and New Zealand!! While I don’t have a flight yet, I’m thinking I will be home sometime in the end of May.

Next fall, I will be starting in the Advanced Standing Masters in Social Work program at NYU! I have really missed Social Work while being here, and am excited to get back in the classroom and continue my education to help better serve my community. I am eager to take all I learned from my wonderful professors at UVM and explore it in a new capacity.

The past 5 months of working in SE Asia and traveling around Thailand and Laos have been full of surprises (bugs, lizards, leeches, you name it), lows (being away from home for Christmas), and highs (the feeling of accomplishment after finishing 5 months of teaching).

Being able to travel like this at 22 years old is a huge privilege, and I am so grateful I was able to work and take a trip like this right after graduation.  It is such a blessing and gift to be welcomed into someone else’s culture and have them share such intimate parts of their life and community with you.

Living here has truly taught me how to live in the moment, go with the flow and be present in this life I am so lucky to live.

Hello! My name is Emma Squier and I graduated from UVM in May 2017 with a major in Sociology and a minor in Studio Art.

UVM was the only school I applied to that was more than 2,000 students but I’m so glad I did because it ended up being a great fit for me. I fell in love with the friendly people, beautiful scenery, delicious food, and Burlington.

During the spring of my junior year I studied abroad in Nepal. While living there, I had the opportunity to complete my own independent study project and experience living with 8 different host families. Nepal was unlike any country that I’ve been to but getting to study and live there was one of the highlights of my time in college.

I knew that I wanted to go back to Asia, I just didn’t know that I would be back less than 2 years later.

Teaching in Thailand gave me the opportunity to travel abroad with my homie, Em Scott while at the same time earning some money. The timing of teaching in Thailand worked out perfectly for me because the 2nd semester for Thai schools doesn’t start until October. This allowed me to get an internship and part-time job back home in Maryland right after graduation.

By the time October rolled around I was nervous to depart for Thailand but feeling ready for my next adventure.


One of the biggest challenges for me while teaching English in our tiny Northern town was the lack of scheduling and communication. When I got placed at my school in Thailand I was told that I would be teaching primary students.

It was not until I arrived at my school that I found out I would be teaching 1st-12th grade!

As someone who had never really taught before, this made me nervous, but as with anything, over time I got the hang of teaching and formed bonds with my students. It turns out, some of my most enjoyable classes to teach were the ones with my older students.

Another learning experience for me had to do with scheduling in Thailand. As someone who is very punctual, having classes start 10-20 minutes late each day was something that was difficult for me to get used to at first. There were times when the dates of school holidays would get switched around or I’d walk in to teach one of my classes and none of the students would be there.

Traveling on the weekends, it would be a miracle if our bus left within 20 minutes of its scheduled departure time. If there even was a scheduled departure time.  There was one instance where our bus left the station 1 minute early and of course that was the time Emily and I missed the bus.

It was in these moments that I had to just go with it even though it was different from what I was used to.

Although my semester of teaching in Thailand was challenging and frustrating at times, I am so grateful for the opportunity. Teaching pushed me outside of my comfort zone and I got to experience living in a new country with one of my best friends. Traveling is so important because it teaches you about yourself and opens your eyes to how other people live.

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting on the plane but once you do you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Want to feature your own travel story? Know a friend who might want to as well? Click the button below and refer a friend (or yourself).