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!

My First Year Out: Chris Veal ’14

For today’s My First Year Out, I caught up with Chris Veal ’14, a member of the UVM Foundation Fellows Program. The Fellows program is currently a cohort of six young alumni from the last decade nominated by Foundation leadership to insure the perspective and opinions of our young alumni are represented in the work of the Foundation board and committees.

In addition to his role as a Fellow, Chris is also a first year Medical Student at the Larner College of Medicine here at UVM. In that vein, Chris speaks about his first year out preparing for medical school. His advice is great for anyone preparing for or considering any graduate program.

Here’s what Chris had to say about his first year out.

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1. Describe your first year out of UVM.

My first year out of UVM, I starting working in the Office of Health Promotion Research at the UVM College of Medicine. During this time, I worked with Dr. Brian Sprague on a variety of research projects centered on Early Stage Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Screening throughout the state.

This job granted me the opportunity to publish my first article in a peer-reviewed medical journal! My article titled “ Health Related Behaviors and Mortality Outcomes in Women Diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ” was published in this months edition of the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

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

My greatest challenge after college was staying focused and preparing for medical school. I did not take the MCAT until after I graduated from UVM. During the months of preparation for that incredibly difficult exam, I had to balance a full time job with studying for the MCAT.

Ultimately, I discovered in order for me to do as well on the MCAT as I wanted to, I would have to quit my job and devote a solid 3 months to studying solely for that exam.

I moved back home with my mother and studied like crazy. Once I took it, I was incredibly blessed to have the chance to return back to Vermont and start a job that I absolutely loved at the UVM College of Medicine. It felt like I didn’t miss a beat.

But quitting my job and taking the time to thoroughly prepare to take the MCAT was the best decision I feel I could have made.

3. What are you doing now? 

I am currently a first year Medical Student at the amazing Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. I must admit, people told me medical school was hard, and I believed them, but I was not expecting it to be as hard as it was during my first semester.

Medical School was a shift for me in many ways, both emotionally and physically. Yet overall, I couldn’t imagine being in a better place.

What’s special about the College of Medicine here at UVM is the level of support given to each and every student. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been my rock of support throughout my time here. I’ve also had the chance to retain amazing relationships with several of the faculty members — one of whom I have lunch with every Tuesday at noon!

Medical School has been an incredible experience, despite the challenges it brings each day. It reminds me that UVM still is the special place I graduated from back in 2014.

4. What advice do you have for recent graduates?

For any alums that are trying to pursue a career in medicine or any health care profession, I would highly suggest taking some time off between graduate school and undergraduate.

I took off 2 years and I think that truly gave me the time to enjoy being in my 20’s for a little bit, and also give me a chance to interact with the real world.

Over those 2 years, my friendships grew closer, I began to understand what I wanted out of life, and I became more active in my community. My time out of school gave me a great foundation to spring from once I started medical school, I would highly suggest it!

Checking in with the Class of 2016, Part II

Part of navigating this first year out is knowing that you’re not alone and no one has it all figured out yet. Your classmates are facing the same challenges and new experiences as you.

Those challenges may look different for different people, 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 Hannah Decelles, Jackson McNally and Alex Pasin.

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  1. What are you up to? I am living in Durham, North Carolina working as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Duke University hospital.  I work the night shift (7:00pm-7:30am), which has been an adjustment and I have definitely become nocturnal!  I moved here in July (the hottest summer of my life!!) and have really enjoyed getting to know a new place.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I am most excited to get to know the area I am living in and exploring more of the south.  The south is SO different from the northeast, from the food to the culture to the people.As much as I love being in the Emergency Department and working as a Nurse, I am also scared when I walk into work every day that there will be something that I wont be able to handle, or a patient that as a team we cannot help when we should’ve. In this next year I know mistakes will be made, but it terrifies me. As scared as I am, I love the team I work with each and every night and I know they have my back.
  1. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The best thing since I’ve graduated is working as an RN.  I learn new things at work every single day, and absolutely love where I work.  It is really gratifying to feel as if I am doing exactly what I want to be doing.

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  1. What are you up to? I’m a wilderness therapy guide at True North Wilderness Program, working with struggling adolescents and young adults.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I’m excited to see how I continue to grow as a guide and how I’m able to not only help and inspire my students, but also make progress in my personal life as a result. I’m pretty bad with money, so I’m scared about potentially struggling to manage my money as I continue to work.
  1. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing has been the relationships I’ve built with the people I work with. I really feel like I’ve found a home for myself. The worst thing has been motivating myself to stay active during my off days instead of relaxing the whole time.

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  1. What are you up to? I’m currently working in customer service at Burton snowboards.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? The best thing is getting in some shredding with the new work crew, hoping for it to dump. The worst is being scared it won’t snow and I’ll have to freeze my tears to try and get some freshies.
  1. What’s the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing about graduating is being able to walk by campus and not have a heart attack realizing I have an essay due or a test the next day. The worst thing is now that worrying is about bills or where I parked my car.

Keeping up with the Catamounts

Here on Afterword we like to keep you connected to other Catamounts, whether it’s through check in posts with your 2016 classmates, My First Year Out, or Get Off the Pile.

Our friends at UVM Continuing Education also do a great job of highlighting UVM alums on their blog, UVM Outreach. They recently profiled 2009 alum, Elliot Kennedy, and his work as the Senior Advisor for LGBT health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can read the full story here.

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Check out the UVM Outreach blog for alumni stories, career advice and more.

Checking In with the Class of 2016

Part of navigating this first year out is knowing that you’re not alone and no one has it all figured out yet. Your classmates are facing the same challenges and new experiences as you.

Those challenges may look different for different people (studying for the GRE, laboring over the perfect cover letter, living with a difficult roommate, winning over a new boss), but know that you’re in good company.

In that spirit, I’m rolling out a segment where 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.

Today, we’ll kick off the first check-in with Ben Kennedy, Dominique Powers, and Ali Chipouras.

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  1. What are you up to? Attempting and oftentimes failing at adulting. How many exemptions do I put on my W4? Will I go to jail if my credit card bill is a day late? How many days in a row can I forget to take the chicken out of the fridge? How do I run out of underwear and socks so fast when I have a whole drawer of them? I wonder why nothing is getting done while simultaneously watching dog videos for four hours because I’m an adult and no one can stop me.But – I sometimes do okay at adulting as I recently became the Learning Coordinator for the Tutoring Center within the Center for Academic Success at UVM, and I’m also pursuing my M.Ed. in educational leadership.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I am most excited to continue to be at UVM, working on my master’s, and setting the world record for petting the most dogs in a year (if that doesn’t exist I’m going to create it). Honestly, I’m most nervous about the fact that I directly supervise over 30 students but I only graduated a hot second ago. Do they see me as an adult? Do they respect me? It’s a really interesting dynamic and learning how to draw the line between supervisor and employee, when I was just in their position a few months ago, is really hard to navigate.
  1. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? I would say living a little on the outskirts of downtown is both a blessing and a curse. I lived on campus for four years as a part of ResLife staff, so I had become accustomed to living steps away from all of my involvements and having a meal plan. You realize that complaining about the food was the least of your worries, because at least someone else was cooking for you, and sometimes the lack of freedom in the reshalls was worth it for the convenience of being so close to everything you needed. However, living in a quiet house with a big backyard is worth it – even if I sweat through my dress shirt on my walk to campus every day.

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  1. What are you up to? I work in the Equipment Room at Pier 59 Studios, which is the biggest (and in my opinion best) Photography Studio in NYC. I set up and break down equipment for the shoots, which with 11 different studio spaces can be a lot!  Because the space is so large (over 100,000 sq. feet) and has such great amenities there’s a lot of big name photographers, designers, producers, and models that come through our doors.  As someone who grew up roaming the mountains it’s definitely a new environment, but an exciting one!  I also do my own work and photo retouching on the side which keeps me creatively engaged and challenged- it’s so important to do things for yourself.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I think this next year will set a precedent for those to come. I have big plans and lots of goals for what I want to accomplish. I’m excited to be living and working in a city with so much opportunity and so many interesting people. I look forward to meeting others who as are as passionate about what they’re doing as I am. A big fear is that I’ll get so wrapped up in work I’ll forget about the little things I do that I find meaning in, like going to yoga once a week, reading in the park, or playing my ukulele. The mindset of the “New York hustle” is very real — to be the best here you have to be better than so many incredible people and I see how easily the grind wears people down.
  1. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? There have been so many good things! Starting a career in a field that I am genuinely excited about is a big one. A super fun/crazy/exhausting thing I got to be a part of this September was New York Fashion Week. Pier 59 totally transforms for the week and instead of photo studios there are 3 different runways and a presentation space. There were anywhere from 2 to 5 runway shows every day, a few of which I was the Venue Manager for, and a few I got to shoot Behind the Scenes for Pier 59’s social media. I never thought I would be at NYFW so it was an incredible experience to be working so intimately with it.

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  1. What are you up to? I just moved to Bozeman, Montana and started a new job as a Wellness and Interpretive Manager for Delaware North Companies (a dining and hospitality company) at Yellowstone.
  1. 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 ski out west and most scared of grizzly bears.
  1. What’s the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing has been moving to a new place and meeting new people, and the worst was leaving Burlington.