We had a chance to catch up with young alumna Erica Goldberg ’12 to hear about her first year out. Check out our conversation below.
Ryan & Derrick: In a few sentences can you tell the Class of 2015 a little about yourself.
Erica: I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from UVM in 2012 with a degree in Environmental Studies and minors in Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies. Clay has always been a passion of mine, and I lived in Living/Learning’s Pottery Program while on campus my first two years at UVM. One of my favorite parts of college was having the opportunity to study abroad in West Africa the spring semester of my junior year.
I currently work for Tetra Tech ARD, an international development consulting firm based in Burlington. I work in the Democracy and Governance sector and have had numerous travel experiences including Bogota, Colombia, Yerevan, Armenia and Monrovia, Liberia.
R&D: What was your first year out like?
Erica: My first year out of college was spent getting used to the 8:30-5:30 work day while most of my friends had more flexible and transitional part-time work schedules. It was during this first year out I realized I could no longer live in a house full of friends, and really needed some more quiet and a routine in order to keep up with work each day.
R&D: What was your biggest challenge that year and how did you overcome it?
Erica: Before I graduated from UVM I was lucky to have three post-graduation opportunities presented in front of me. I had secured an internship with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), I was offered room and board to continue working at the NGO in the Dominican Republic where I had conducted my senior thesis research, and I was offered a job as an Administrative Assistant at Tetra Tech ARD in Burlington.
It was difficult for me to choose which next step to take and I was nearly paralyzed with this decision making process. I had to make an initial decision, and ultimately reasoned that I was not yet ready to leave Burlington, which ruled out working in the Dominican Republic.
I knew I ultimately wanted to work in international development and wasn’t sure that the VEIC internship would turn into a secure job after the summer. The position at Tetra Tech ARD was entry level, but I had to start somewhere.
So I decided to take the opportunity to ‘get my foot in the door’ and be exposed to the world of international development. The job began as soon as I was able to start, so I actually began my first day of work right after I took my last final at UVM. While my friends were celebrating Senior Week, I was starting my first ‘real’ job.
R&D: What surprised you the most about that year?
Erica: I was surprised to realize how much I thrive on structure and routine and how comfortable I felt with the life I was living in Burlington. I also learned how important maintaining a work-life balance is, and was surprised at how difficult this could be. In order to keep my sanity I needed to continue to do the things I enjoy outside of work: pottery, running, yoga, biking, spending time with friends.
It’s easy to fill each day with work and the mundane drudgery of grocery shopping, cooking, and chores, then sleep and repeat.
But, it’s important to continue to do the things that make you happy!
R&D: Do you have any advice for the Class of 2015?
Erica: Don’t worry about your resume. Pursue opportunities that you are genuinely interested in and next steps and direction towards career opportunities will follow.
I got my foot in the door with an administrative position, worked hard and two promotions later I’m where I wanted to be. I’m a Staff Associate in the Democracy and Governance Sector at Tetra Tech doing international development work.
Feeling indecisive and overwhelmed by many paths and options is inevitable. The first step to conquering this is making an initial decision, whether it be a location you’d like to move to or a job you would like to pursue.
Sometimes the hardest part is making the first decision, but one decision leads to a domino effect of unavoidable next decisions.