Get Off the Pile: Survey Results!

Remember two weeks ago when you took a survey about personal finance for us?

We’re here to report back on the results, and take a look at what topics within the world of personal finance you all would like to learn more about!

So, Let’s check it out.

tl;dr: You all are interested in hearing more about the important stuff, like retirement funds, investing, and budgeting – Awesome!

The more we looked at these results, the more realized your interests boiled down to two thematic categories: Personal budgeting and Employee benefits.

A lot of you had suggestions on other topics for us to cover, and we’ll weave those in as well. First, we’re going to tackle some of these bigger topics, and then circle back to some of your suggestions.

In the meantime, we’ve reached out to our personal finance experts to get their input, including a professor here at UVM and an alum who is a professional financial advisor

We’re also collecting top-notch and easy-to-use resources from across the internet, so you’ll have access to all the personal finance information you could ever want!

Remember, we’re not experts at this either. So, we’re looking forward to learning about these things as much as you are!

Thanks for following along,

Kathryn ’15 and Ryan ’10

Get Off the Pile: Cover Letters, 2017 Edition

Here at Afterword, we want to provide helpful advice to guide you through the real world of job searches, interviews, personal finance and much more. This series “Get Off the Pile” is where we focus on these topics.

Right now, a lot of you are job searching, or preparing for that process as the summer winds down, so, this week we ask “how can you get off the pile of endless applications with a stellar cover letter”?

Andrew Flewelling, our HR expert at the UVM Foundation has some helpful tips for how to write great cover letters. Andrew has a graduate degree from UVM and is the Senior Director of Human Resources here at the UVM Foundation. Today he’s going to discuss writing expert cover letters.

The Basics

When it comes to cover letters, the most common mistake I see is that the applicant merely restates what their resume says. I CAN read, so there is no need to make a sentence out of a bullet that is listed on the next page.

Instead, a good cover letter is one that does my work for me. It clearly articulates why the position is of interest; and illuminates the skills and abilities that make the applicant special.

It’s great to talk about a few (2-3 max) examples of success. Bonus points if the applicant can quantify the success (% increase, overall sales, maximized efficiency by x measure, etc…).

What Makes a Cover Letter Stand Out?

The letters that really stand out are the ones in which the applicant takes their experiences, skills, and successes, and synthesizes them for me, highlighting their direct and/or transferable nature for the position they seek. The best letters demonstrate that the writer knows enough about the position to be able to overlay their own skills on what we are looking for.

Tips for Writing a Stand-out Cover Letter

1. Keep it to one page. And be aware of the formatting — dense, long paragraphs in eight point type are not good practice.

2. State the important. In the opening paragraph, mention the position applied for and where the listing was posted. In the rest of the letter, discuss what the position requires (skills, characteristics, temperament, values, etc.) and demonstrate/prove that you possess those requirements.

3. Mix it up. Use a good mixture of short declarative statements and longer, multi clause sentences to make sure the letter flows.

4. Be Yourself. Don’t be afraid to inject a bit of personal passion. Depending on the position, it may be appropriate to articulate your understanding of the importance of the position to the company, industry, society overall. You should also be able to articulate why the position is important to you.

5. Read it out loud. Hearing yourself will help you catch mistakes, missed references or awkward phrasing. Have a friend do this with you too, it always helps to double check.

6. Proofread to perfection. Incorrect grammar, spelling, and punctuation are non-negotiable deal breakers.

2017 Check-In Survey: Results

Last week we asked ya’ll to take a quick survey and let us know where you’re at in your post college adventure. We want to know more about you, so we can you the most relevant info and resources.

Beyond that, we think it’s important for you all to see where your classmates are in their journey, because we’re all out in this crazy world together, doing the best we can.







So, without further ado…


Looks like you all want diverse subjects covered here on the blog- And we’re excited to bring that to you!

It’s awesome that so many of you have landed a new job right after college, and we’ll be bringing career advice throughout the year.

Understandably, the relationships and connections made here at UVM are most important to y’all.

We’ll keep you posted of any events are coming up, to keep those UVM connections alive!

If any of this makes you nervous, don’t worry. When we did this survey with last year’s grads, they were pretty much in the same place you are.

Beyond these graphs, a few of you had some great suggestions for things that we should include on the blog, including more pictures of animals, funny video skits, Greek life updates, transitioning into the job market, more UVM Alumni stories, post grad life hacks… the list goes on and on!

But don’t worry, we hear you. We’ll be bringing you helpful info around jobs, general life advice, as well as all the relatable animal gifs the internet has to offer.

Thanks for following along,

Kathryn ’15 and Ryan ’10

MFYO – Nathaniel Fuchs ’16

This week we are checking in with another one of your classmates – Nathaniel Fuchs!

He is the recipient of a Fulbright grant to do research in Norway this fall. Check out his post grad story.

Describe your first year out of UVM.

I have been fortunate in my first year out of UVM and I’m grateful for the friends, family and places that have made it so interesting. But first of all WOW… it’s been a whole year!

It boggles the mind, graduation seems like a moment ago.

To give a brief timeline I started the summer working for UVM’s Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL) as a Team lead, left for six weeks to work as hiking crew in the Olympic Mountains of Washington state, came without a day to spare to be an assistant Manager at a hiking camp (Cold River Camp) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for two weeks, returned to SAL for a number of months.

I currently write to you in a cabin lit by firelight again as assistant Manager of Cold River. In a month I leave for Norway to start my Public Health research as a Fulbright Scholar.

Reflecting on my travels it seems like an improbable feat, I’ve been many places and jumped from one experience straight into another, in a word tumultuous. I flew through 8 airports, drank water from the snowfields of the Olympic Mountains, stuck my feet in the sand of both the Pacific and Atlantic shores, faced off with mountain goats and wrote a Fulbright application in a tent without a floor.

I received notice of being accepted to Brown, Boston University and Tufts Medical School for Masters in Public Health and have been granted status as a Fulbright Scholar.

I currently consider myself the most fortunate man alive.

These experiences have allowed me to meet a number of fantastic people, see the natural beauty our nation has to offer, do research and save for graduate school. For a first year out from college, it’s been an exciting adventure.

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

The greatest challenge that I faced in my year out from college was, I think, a universal one. Namely, the transition to a different way of life, from student to a fully matriculated adult. Being at university brings the stress of trying to succeed in the structure set out by others.

By graduating, it’s now on you to both create structure and succeed within it. This transition, for me was really hammered home by the process of securing jobs and organizing a path that leads to where I want to go.

Overcoming the transition for me was really a process of persistence and deliberation. To apply to competitive grants and jobs is difficult. Specifically because you know that it’s possible that some or all of it won’t pan out as planned.

The silver lining is that eventually something WILL WORK and the only path to success is to keep on trying.

What did you learn from this experience?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that finding confidence equal to ones ability is really the true test of becoming an adult. Sometimes I feel like I’m just a kid from a small town doing his own thing.

However, in the end of the day I’ve gained knowledge from my experiences/mentors and I can navigate a world of problems, it I put myself up to the task.

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

Simply put I would say plan for the future and enjoy the present, don’t put one of those two in higher priority than the other. After all it is possible to do both.

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

As mentioned above, I’m currently working as a manager at a hiking camp in the wilds of the White Mountains. It’s the place that I love most in the world and it’s fortunate in the extreme that I get to enjoy the solitude of the woods and streams before venturing off into the bustle of Oslo.

I’ll be off to do my Fulbright Research in August. After that I’ll either be off to Graduate school or maybe another research grant if I’m lucky!

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.