My First Year Out (So Far) – Octavio Araujo

On this edition of My First Year Out (So Far) we check in with Octavio Araujo, who shares some helpful tips on adapting to an exciting (and challenging) new work environment, learning about airplane structures, and moving to the west coast.

Describe your first year out of UVM:

It’s only been 11 months, or so, but it sure feels like year. I left Burlington shortly after graduation to spend two weeks in Florida with my family before the big move. I had accepted a job offer in Seattle from Boeing without having ever visited the west coast.

I’d say that was intimidating given I didn’t know anybody living there.

Boeing is a big company and I was constantly asking myself if I was going to be up for the challenge ahead, learning how to design plane structures, especially in a place renowned for designing the best commercial airliners.

I had only a vague idea of the team I would be working with, so I didn’t know what engineering topics I would need to brush up on specifically before starting.

It turned out that the team was quite amazing, mostly senior engineers, with the exception of three new hires including myself. The amount of knowledge I’ve gained in these last 9 months is incredible. I’m surrounded by experts in all airplane components, from wings to empennage and fuselage.

I must give credit to all the amazing professors in the school of engineering, who provided me with the tools, knowledge, and experiences I needed to succeed.

The work is challenging, but also rewarding. The designers I collaborate with have a lot of passion for their work. I would say that out of sheer luck I have the best job in the world, but must also admit that I’m really devoting myself.

Sometimes it can be stressful and difficult, days can be long, and due dates too close. I’m back in school for a Boeing/University of Washington certificate in Modern Aircraft Structures, which takes place after work. I regularly take optional training for 8hrs on Saturdays, and during free time I’m trying to teach myself advanced CAD workbenches in CATIA.

I also sometimes volunteer with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers doing high school STEM night.

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

I’m most proud of two things. First, I was presented to Boeing’s chief design engineer and given a task by my manager very hastily. I had to read up on some specific material to bring out specific differences between industry standards and in-house standards. I was unfamiliar with both, but brought myself up to speed and was able to deliver as expected.

Second, I’m being mentored by a wing expert at the moment who assigns me work and coaches me through. As a mechanical engineer I’d expect to be doing only strict mechanical engineering. In this particular case, I’ve had to learn A LOT about fire.

As new airplane models undergo FAA certification, different engineering organizations are delegated responsible to comply with all regulations affecting your component. In this case, the wing, is impacted by FAR25.867 which defines certain wing surfaces must be fire resistant.

So I went along and learned [almost] everything about it, from fleet accidents to current regulation interpretations. I (with orientation from my mentor) came up with intelligence over how to achieve compliance and had to present to a committee of technical fellows (high regarding engineering ‘rank’ at Boeing, engineering decision makers).

In both occurrences I was nervous and unsure of myself, as coming into the presentations you’re told “it’s only another meeting in their schedule” but going upon leaving you realizing “this is where careers are made”.

I guess preparing and being able to think on your feet was necessary to overcome these challenges.

What did you learn from this experience?

At the end of the day, you need to be yourself. Bring who you are to the table and let people criticize your work. Take pride in your mistakes, they end up being lessons.

I learned that the only way to get better is by practice and preparation. Burrow like a worm.

Any advice for your classmates?

Convince yourself you can always do better. Everyone is on their own clock, but don’t procrastinate. Do something! Strive to find that which drives you.

What’s it like being on the west coast?

I’m focusing on getting a good start in my career, but whenever I can I try to head downtown and explore Seattle. I’m not the most outdoorsy person, but I’m exited for spring and hiking. I’m making plans for summer, I want to explore the west coast a bit more!

I’m also taking advantage of the Pacific North West and I’ve been able to go on some pretty cool hikes around the area, currently waiting for friendlier weather to enjoy more of the outdoors.


If you liked this post, check out our previous check-ins with your classmates Kristen Smith and Lyndi Wieand.

My First Year Out (so far…) – Lyndi Wieand

Today we have a special edition of My First Year Out. If you have been following along for a while, you’ll remember we checked in with your 2016 classmate Kristen Smith back in December.

This time we catch up with Lyndi Wieand who shares some lessons in juggling a busy schedule and persevering through career challenges.

Describe your first year out of UVM.

My first year out of UVM has been busy, busy, busy! The week after I graduated and moved back home, I went on vacation with my family to Jackson Hole, WY and Yellowstone National Park. That was an incredible trip and I feel so blessed to have experienced such natural beauty.

It was so different moving back home for good this time, instead of just for a few months during college. I do miss my friends, my rugby team, and the beauty of Vermont.

Shortly after that trip, I started working. I had one job lined up before I moved back working at a local hospital as a Nutrition Services Aide and I also started working as a waitress in early June. I worked those two jobs simultaneously for about two months, working about 50-60 hours a week.

The hospital job wasn’t what I expected it to be and it didn’t relate to my Dietetics, Nutrition, and Food Science Degree, so I resigned in August. However, in July I received an opportunity to work at a brand new local winery that would open in August owned by a former internship supervisor and her husband. My role at the winery is to give tastings, but I’ve also been able to help with the production process of several of the wines, getting Food Science experience.

My life got even more busy in October when I was offered a position at Lehigh University as a Nutrition Assistant to the Registered Dietitian on campus. Carrie, my boss also happens to be the winery owner and my former internship supervisor… oh how networking is important!

So now I am currently working three part time jobs, still at 50-60 hours a week, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

My biggest challenge would be juggling three work schedules and having very little free time for much of anything. Sunday is my only day off, so I try to either recover from the work week, or finally get time to spend with my family, boyfriend and friends.

My second biggest challenge was going through heartbreak last April when I wasn’t “matched” for a dietetic internship–the next step I need to complete before I can become a real person in the nutrition field, a Registered Dietitian. Part of the reason I’m working so hard and so much since graduation is to get more experience in the nutrition field.

I recently went through the internship application process for a second time, and had three interviews in March. This coming Sunday, April 2 is when I find out if I get a “match” this year. I felt a lot more confident in myself this time around than last year, so I’m optimistic!

What did you learn from this experience?

What I learned from this experience is that hard work and dedication can make yourself that much better than you ever thought you could be. I may be exhausted most of the week, but I’ve gained so much experience in the work world that I know I’ll be able to base my real life career off of.

The skills and quality of nutrition knowledge I’ve learned at Lehigh are exactly what I needed to be a better candidate for the internship I will hopefully be completing this coming school year.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as you prepared to graduate from UVM? 

I would have told myself to enjoy it as much as I can (even though I think I did), and take advantage of everything wonderful there is to do in Burlington and the surrounding area.

There were a lot of restaurants I never tried, as well as local beers, and outdoor activities. I wish I skied more last year, PA winters and mountains are nothing in comparison to VT. I barely went hiking, which is something that I wanted to do so badly, but rarely had the time.

I would have wanted to get more involved in the other clubs and get more nutrition experience and/or research done while in school, as well as networked more with some of my professors.

Another thing I would have told myself would have been to expect the unexpected. Things you plan won’t always go that way, which is hard for me to accept, since I’m a perfectionist.

When I was rejected by the internships I applied to, my “life plan” for the next year was shattered. I made a new plan to work as much as I could and get nutrition experience, and look where I am now.

Becoming an adult has certainly been a learning experience, but you’ve got to start small in order to get big!

What are you doing now and what are you looking to do next?

The most important thing I am looking forward to next is to get matched to an internship, hopefully my top choice at Cedar Crest College, and start that in late July until April. After completion, I’ll be able to sit for the registration exam, and upon passing, become a Registered Dietitian!

I’m also hoping to start Grad School either this year or next to get my Master’s in Nutrition. Until then, I’ll still be working my three jobs, but maybe cut back on some hours to give myself some more time to breathe and relax in the summer.

My First Year Out: UVM Couple Edition

This week’s My First Year Out story is from a UVM alumni couple. Emily Meltzer ’12 and Philip Bruno ’12 share the story of their first year out — which involved moving cross-country after graduation.

1. Describe your first year out of UVM.

We packed up all of our things in Burlington and moved straight to Seattle – 10 days after graduating. We both knew we wanted to move west, and Seattle had the perfect combination of the city and the outdoors. To be honest, we didn’t move with a plan in place. Emily worked in Pike Place Market for the summer until securing an AmeriCorps position, and Philip worked a few part time jobs until landing a full time position at a digital marketing startup.

Our first year out of school was all about testing the waters, discovering our professional passions, and exploring a part of the country that neither of us had previously spent time in. It was a total whirlwind!

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

Our biggest challenge was getting past our original expectations of what employment is “supposed” to look like when you graduate. First jobs are hard work, often thankless, and definitely aren’t always trendy, glamorous or full of cool perks. Both of us were lucky to have growth opportunities happen very quickly within our places of employment, and had room to experiment with our respective career paths.

We are both strong advocates for ourselves and always came to the table prepared to provide input, even if we were the “lowest on the totem pole”, so to speak. At first it was intimidating to engage in conversations about topics that we were so new to, but we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of respect we were treated with by our more seasoned colleagues.

3. What are you doing now?

Emily is the Director of Development for the social services branch of the YMCA of Greater Seattle. She oversees fundraising, marketing and volunteerism for the organization.

Philip is the Senior Mobile Marketing Manager for Add3, a digital marketing agency based in Seattle. He leads strategy, launch and optimization of campaigns for national and multinational brands.

4. What advice do you have for recent graduates?

Believe it or not, more tenured professionals are excited to hear what you have to say. What you might not have in professional experience, you make up for in lived experience and creativity. People who have “been in the business” can become limited in their ability to think outside of the box, but recent graduates have a much broader view of what’s possible.

You have the ability to think beyond the status quo since you haven’t been confined to the status quo of your industry yet. Take advantage of your newness and use it as a super power!

Introducing the Afterword Podcast

Yep, you read that right — Afterword jumped on the ol’ podcast bandwagon.

I’m not sure how often I’ll do these, but it’s a fun new series and I’m excited to share it with you.

Today’s episode is a continuation of our Get Off The Pile series on careers and jobs. The topic is how to talk about your career experiences in job interviews, even when you don’t have much experience (or when that experience isn’t relevant at all).

I interviewed my boss, Kevin Morgenstein Fuerst, the Director of Annual Giving here at the UVM Foundation. Check out the quick 10 minute interview to hear how he landed his first few jobs (without much experience) and his creative tips for talking up your experience and making yourself more qualified than you might actually think you are.

Get off the Pile: How to talk about experience (or lack there of).

Class of 2016 Check-in, Part III

Part of navigating your first year out is knowing that you’re not alone and no one has it all figured out yet. You and your classmates are facing similar challenges and new experiences.

Those challenges may look different for each person, but know that you’re in good company.

That’s what this segment is all about. We check-in with a few of your classmates and see what they are doing and how they’re navigating their first year out. Oh, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask a few “this or that” questions about some UVM/Burlington/Vermont stuff.

This week we spoke to Connor Banfield, Roger Dagama, Jess D’Amelio and Phoebe Sheehan. 

  1. What are you up to? I’m waiting tables at Sweetwaters while figuring out my life.
  2. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I’m most excited to leave Burlington and move out west. I’m most scared about Donald Trump ruining our country.
  3. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing since I’ve graduated has been not having tests or classes. The worst part is that all my friends moved away.

  1. What are you up to? I’m currently in my last semester UVM’s Master of Accountancy program and I’m preparing to take the CPA exam.
  2. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I’m most excited about moving to Boston, starting my new job, and passing the CPA exam (hopefully!). I’m most scared of the CPA exam.
  3. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing since graduating has been spending one more year in Burlington! The worst is the reality of not calling Burlington home in a few shorts months.

  1. What are you up to? I currently live in Burlington, Vermont and am a Production and Design Assistant at Meredith Corporation / Eating Well Magazine in Shelburne and a Fulfillment and Design Assistant at Skida Headwear and Accessories in Burlington. I also work on a range of freelance design projects. 
  2. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I’m very excited about my new roles and seeing where these various part time jobs take me. Currently, I’m mainly interested in growing my design skills, even if that involves biting off more than I can chew, and I hope to learn animation. At the same time, what I am most scared about is the same as what I’m most excited about – the evolution of my skill set and career experience in a creative and competitive field. Gotta keep moving.
  3. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? Since graduation, the best thing that has happened is staying around Burlington. I love the new relationship I’ve built with UVM as a post grad. The worst thing was all the inevitable madness and confusion that happened before I found more stability with my current positions.

  1. What are you up to? I am currently living in Whitefish, Montana where I’m working full time nights as a NICU nurse. 
  2. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? This upcoming year I am most excited about getting to explore a new town, a new ski resort and being only 30 minutes away from Glacier National Park! I’m most nervous about getting attacked by a grizzly bear or mountain lion.
  3. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing since I’ve graduated has been getting to work my dream job with my tiny little babies. The worst thing since I’ve graduated has been being so far away from the majority of my friends and family and Cabot cheese is $10 a block in Montana.

  1. What are you up to? I am working as a photojournalist for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania. I cover a variety of news, ranging from the football and wrestling at Penn State – a Big Ten Conference member – to taking photographs of community news in State College and surrounding towns. I also recently documented the 2017 presidential inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington.
  2. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I am most excited about my job this year because, as cliché as it may sound, every day is an an adventure. News is unpredictable and strange. Every photograph presents an opportunity to tell a story or reveal a truth and the challenge to capture images that illustrate a story and resonate with readers. In these past five months I’ve been surprised by how many opportunities I’ve had to photograph assignments both locally as well as nationwide and I look forward to keep being surprised by the next awesome opportunity journalism provides.
    It has been challenging making the transition from full time student to full time employee. Since the news cycle is 24/7, my job requires I work weekends and holidays, with two days off in the middle of the week. I am constantly on-the-go and my own interests, outside of photography, are often neglected. Other than my typical recent college grad fears (paying rent, bills, etc), I’m concerned I won’t have enough time to pursue my personal photo projects or outside interests.
  3. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? Besides moving in with my boyfriend and adopting a kitten from our local animal shelter, the best thing to happen to me since graduating from UVM is landing a full time job in the news industry, where work is scarce, especially in the field of photojournalism. At UVM I majored in English and minored in Religion so on paper I didn’t look especially qualified. However, spending four years at The Cynic as a photographer and photo editor and doing a photojournalism internships at the my hometown newspaper and at an online Vermont publication gave me invaluable experience. I also took a few great photography courses in the art department at UVM, where I developed my artistic eye. These experiences helped me produce a decent portfolio, but I was still surprised to land my dream job just two months after graduating. In the short time I’ve been working for the Centre Daily Times I’ve expanded my connections in the news industry and I’ve had multiple occasions where my photographs went across the wire services and were picked up by publications across the country.
    The worst thing since graduating has been having to leave Burlington behind. I really miss my friends and our countless trips to Oakledge or late night jaunts to Three Needs. Central Pennsylvania is beautiful, with its rolling hills and slightly warmer weather, but I miss New England and its familiar vibe.