Meet Your Hosts Ryan ’10 and Kathryn ’15

Welcome back! This week we wanted to take an opportunity to properly introduce ourselves as the hosts of Afterword.

One of the major reasons we started this blog was to help recent graduates feel accompanied on their journeys through the real world, and gain advice from fellow alums along the way. In other words, if you aren’t sure what’s next, you are definitely not alone.

We have a recurring series on here called “My First Year Out” in which we interview a recent alum about what they were up to in their first year out of UVM.

This week, we are going to tell our own first year out stories, and give some helpful tips on what we learned along the way. Stay tuned in future weeks for more posts like this from other recent alums.

Now, on to our stories…

Kathryn Meader ’15

Describe your first year out.

When I graduated from UVM in May 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 at Macy’s and with every closing shift I knew 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 know I wouldn’t have gotten that job without the encouragement/advice of one of my mentors. When I took that position, I told myself I would keep that job for a full year. Then I would allow myself to think about grad school, or where I wanted my career to go from there. When I began my job search again, I realized how much I had grown in my time at the Foundation.

I was thrilled this spring when I was approached about moving into the Assistant Director of Annual Giving position. I’ve loved living in Vermont post UVM, and welcomed an opportunity to continue my life here.

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

I think my biggest challenge after graduation was my own indecisiveness. Once I left the security of college, there was a moment when it hit me – no one was in charge of me.

No one was expecting anything of me. For the first time, I actually felt as though I had absolutely no structure to my life. School had always been easy, and something that I excelled at. Because it was easy, I was never forced to make any real decisions.

Suddenly, I was faced with a world of choices, and no real rudder for what I wanted to do. It took a long time, and a significant amount of realizing what I DIDN’T want.

This is a challenge I think we are all grappling with, on one level or another. There are people in the world who have known since they were small what they wanted for their career. But, I am not that person – most people aren’t. We all sometimes need to learn to give ourselves the time to really learn about what we want.

In the end, I overcame this challenge by learning to give myself a break.Hear that? Give yourself a break.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Try not to be afraid to ask people for help/advice.

What are you doing now, and what are you looking at next?

Well, having just started my new position with the Annual Giving team two months ago, I’m really excited to learn all there is to learn about the world of fundraising and annual giving. I am especially excited to enter this world from the perspective of a recent graduate, because I think that will give me important insight into the way that younger potential donors feel about fundraising projects, and how to best engage with a growing population of young UVM grads.

I want to help make sure that young alums feel engaged with UVM, and continue to have positive interactions with the Foundation.

Ryan Chartier ’10

Describe your first year out.

Like Kathryn, I had no plan.

But I did think about my very first move after school ended. Sometime during senior year I decided I would move back home with my parents after college and work for a while to save up money. I was REALLY broke all throughout my last year at UVM trying to pay for rent etc, so I worked a few jobs to make ends meet and kept a positive attitude.

The idea of saving money up to move somewhere on my own eventually seemed like a good idea. Graduate school was in my future, but honestly I didn’t think too much about how I would realize that plan.

I spent most of the year working, saving up money and visiting Burlington to see friends once in a while. Where I grew up in Western Massachusetts, there wasn’t a lot to do and most of my high school friends had moved away, so honestly it was kind of boring and I regretted my decision.

I spent a lot of evenings reading and watching TV shows, specifically watching all nine seasons of the X-Files, so if I happen to mention the X-Files a lot, it’s been burned into my brain.

In the early winter I applied to grad school and really wanted to just go back to Burlington and UVM so that’s what happened. Hooray!

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

My biggest challenge was thinking that I NEEDED to do something with my degree. Since I was an English major, the possibilities are pretty broad and not that specific, so that’s why I went for an advanced degree.

Another challenge was just believing in myself and that I could make something happen if I just got my foot in the door somewhere. The ‘real world’ feels like an ocean of limitless depth that you can find yourself lost in, so really narrowing down what I wanted to do was a big challenge.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

I would say don’t move home, unless you have an internship opportunity in that location. Go somewhere you really want to live with your friends, even if you have to rough it for a while.

Also, don’t rush. Like Kathryn said, give yourself a break.

Take a minute to enjoy life and remember that you just spent four years or more bettering your education and preparing for an independent life. Enjoy that independence. Keep moving forward.

What are you doing now, and what are you looking at next?

Currently I am working as Assistant Director of Annual Giving at the Foundation where I work in development and keep alums better connected to UVM by doing personal outreach and fundraising.

Recently I took on some new responsibilities in my job so I am looking forward to getting on the road to meet more UVM alums and gaining more development experience. Later this summer I will be taking a vacation to Denver and New Mexico to see some places I have never been.