My First Year Out – Joseph Thomas ’08

Hey everyone, we hope you are settling in nicely to the new year. Remember a few months back when we featured class of 2016 graduate Sarah Weiss? She shared a bit about what she was up to in her her first year out of school. You can read her story here.

This week, and in the months to come, we will continue to feature young alumni and their first year experiences. Feel inspired to share yours? Check out the end of this post to see how you can.

Joseph Thomas is a 2008 graduate and current UVM Foundation Fellow who has spent time in numerous locations around the country working in politics and has recently landed back in his hometown of New York City. Check out his story below.

Describe your first year out:

My first year out I lived in Washington D.C. I worked as a Staff Assistant on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who was then Chairman of the committee. it was right at the beginning of the Obama Administration, we worked on the first expansion of federal hate crimes legislation, and the first to include any type of protections for LGBT individuals on a federal level, and the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, for me it was a great time to be in D.C.

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

Trying to balance having so much free time and no homework to do. I never had things like expendable income, free time and a new city to discover. Friends and coworkers helped me out, friends were coming down to DC and I was able to discover new parts of the city I had not been able to see.

What did you learn from this experience?

I learned from this experience that the first year out of college after so much time in school can be scary, and challenging, but manageable. College helps you discover a lot about who you are, but learning and growing doesn’t stop when college does. For me this was my first time really being on my own without the college safety net to help me and I learned a great deal about my own ability to be independent.   

What are you doing now?

I am a lawyer and I am getting ready to start working with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office as a Liaison on Community Affairs.  Just before this new role I came off of working on the de Blasio Campaign working in my hometown of The Bronx, and before that working on the Clinton Campaign, doing Voter Protection Work in Wisconsin.  

Any advice?

Challenge yourself, your first year out. There is so much you can learn about yourself. Take the time to try out things you’ve never done. Within my first year I tried yoga (wasn’t a fan) Skydiving (I was a fan) went to plays, musicals, museums, and I traveled to different cities, all things I never gave myself time to do in college and wish that I had. It was a rewarding experience because of how much I discovered about my likes and dislikes and all the cool things any city, no matter where you are has amazing things to offer.

Want to share your first year out so far? Email us at