Life after the tassels are turned

Grad Assistant Alyssa Leonard stands in the press box at a West Virginia University football game.
Courtesy Photo.

For some it’s all about job hunting after graduation. For others it’s staying in school a bit longer.  Yet one thing Castleton graduates all have in common – the wrath of growing up.

Stacy Sullivan, who graduated in May with bachelors in communication, went from living in an apartment with eight girls to living back at home and now to living with one roommate. Something that didn’t change though, was the state she chose to reside in.

“I wanted to come back to the area,” she said. “I am so much more a Vermonter than I am a Connecticut girl.”

Sullivan landed a job rather quickly. After applying for a position in Killington, within two days she received a phone call and a week later she had the job.

This was a sense of relief.  

“The whole not knowing what is going to happen after you graduate and the uncertainty of finding a job is the biggest challenge,” she said.

Since early November, Sullivan has been working in the Information Center at Killington Mountain doing computer work and answering calls.

Like many, the harsh reality of debt has already started to kick in for Sullivan. She has begun paying off loans but realizes she needs another part-time job to do that and pay other living expenses

But money isn’t the only frustration she’s dealt with.

“I went on this interview and was battling with this guy who was so unprofessional and inappropriate. He just made me feel really uncomfortable,” Sullivan said. “This was upsetting because I thought I would like the job.”

Nevertheless Sullivan has moved on and is excited about being on her own again, beginning the next chapter of her life.

JenniLee Mark, another recent communication department graduate, has a similar story.

When she was applying for jobs, there was one job in particular that didn’t turn out how she would have liked. She had an interview, they dragged her in for more and then out of the blue said, “we won’t have the time to train you and you don’t have the experience we need.”

“I was really excited about it and they seemed excited too and then they said no,” Mark said.

 Mostly she was upset because they knew from the beginning she wasn’t qualified, but dragged her along anyway.

But everything worked out for the best. Mark, for two weeks now has been making a 40-minute commute from home in Chelmsford, Mass. for her new job at a non-profit agency called PHD Thomson, Habib and Dennison located in Lexington, Mass. There, she is the account coordinator for the agency, which means she coordinates communication between four different parties.

“I like what I’m doing, especially that I am working with nonprofits,” Mark said.

Although she is really enjoying her job, she is still in the transition stage.

“It’s such a change from Castleton because everything was right there on campus that you would need,” she said. “I feel like a grownup paying off student loans.”

Eric Dowd, who graduated in May, got a job at the Burlington Airport as a location manager for Hertz. He said he knew the loans were waiting to be paid, so it wasn’t a huge shock but it won’t be something he enjoys.

“It will be fun because I have two private loans,” Dowd said sarcastically. “A lot of my paychecks will be going toward loans. It sucks, but it’s life.”

Looking back though, Dowd said he is fortunate for what Castleton had to offer.

“What I didn’t realize at the time were the opportunities I had at Castleton. They definitely prepared me for the real world and taught me a lot of valuable lessons,” he said.

Dowd said applying and interviewing for different positions and jobs will build connections and eventually will help work your way up.

Currently he has an apartment in South Burlington Castleton alum Cori Farnum and is happy there.

Another graduate however, wasn’t so lucky.

Stephanie Arndt graduated in May and since then she has been studying textile development at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. When first moving to the city though, you could say she had a bizarre experience.

Her landlord was a creep.

“He was super nice and normal this summer when I met him with my dad and told us he’s had woman students live with him before. Then I moved in and he had flowers, chocolate and Victoria’s Secret coupons waiting for me in my room. We found out later from people who lived in the building that he never had those girls live with him,” Arndt said.

But it didn’t end there.

“The next day when we came back to get my stuff, there was a playboy with men on it on the table. He had issues,” she said.

She was fortunate enough to find another apartment quickly with a girl from Maine who she said is an absolute sweetheart. Since then her life has turned for the better.

“I’m really loving it and I am taking seven classes right now so I am constantly busy, but I am learning so much,” Arndt said.

Another graduate who decided to continue her education was Alyssa Leonard. She is a graduate assistant at West Virginia University in the recreation department working toward her masters in sport management.

Right now she is the head administrator in charge of intermurals, with duties including game scheduling, official scheduling and basically any administrative work.

Being at a much larger school is what Leonard finds to be the biggest transition, but said it’s something she really loves.  

“I enjoyed getting to know the culture of a bigger university and talking to people that have a different perspective,” she said.

Leonard has some advice a lot of graduates may want to hear.

“As stressful as figuring out what your doing after Castleton is, just enjoy your time. Don’t compare what you’re doing to other people,” she said.

Mark had another outlook.

“Listen to all the advice you get from people. Take it into account. Keep your goals and dreams in the forefront of your mind and try not to get stressed but just make an effort,” she said.


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