University of Vermont

The Honors College

Professional Development Forum

You Can Go Your Own Way

You Can Go Your Own Way: The 2012 Professional Development Forum at the University of Vermont Honors College

This forum is about who you are, who you want to become, and how you can get there.

"What do you want to do after you graduate?"

Every college student has to field this question at several (if not several dozen) points in his or her life. It's a question can be, well, stressful to answer and stressful to confront. After all, you're used to being driven, smart and successful in everything you do, so it can leave you feeling anxious if you're not sure what you want to do, or if you don't have a clear path toward reaching your goals.

If you're starting to sense that life after UVM is unpredictable, well, you may be on to something. "What do you want to do after you graduate?!" Hard to're getting a great education inside and outside of the classroom at UVM, but sometimes it's not always clear how many different ways you can transfer your academic and extracurricular experiences into a job or career. Nor is it always clear which of these opportunities are the best fit for you.

That's where the Honors College Professional Development Forum comes in.

Your experiences at UVM prepare and enable you to go forward and thrive professionally, intellectually and personally after you graduate, but the question is: how do your academic, intellectual and extracurricular interests fit into different professional and postgraduate opportunities? Moreover, which of these opportunities are going to best allow you to live your life in a way you find personally fulfilling? If life after UVM is going to be an unpredictable adventure, then it's time to connect your expertise, experiences, talents, skills, interests and aspirations to different opportunities that enable you to find your niche.

You can't know exactly what your future is going to hold, but participating in this forum will get you to start asking the right questions, using the right resources, and asking the right people about how you can chart a path that will enable you to continue to pursue your passions and your interests long after you've left college.

Here's what this forum will not do: This forum will not find a job for you. This forum will not tell you what to do and when you need to do it in order to be ready to pursue your summer work or post graduate goals. This forum will help you get started with creating and growing mentoring relationships in the Honors College, on campus and beyond UVM, but it will not nurture those relationships for you.

This forum also will not tell you who or what you should become. That's up to you. But it will give you a broader understanding of how your academic, intellectual and extracurricular experiences enable you to fit into a variety of postgraduate opportunities, and it will enable you to figure out which of those opportunities best fit into your personal, intellectual and professional interests. That's not easy, so this experience will also provide you with personal support as you start to figure out who you want to become and how you want to get there.

The Professional Development Forum Commitment

The forum will consist of one weekly hour-long session during the fall 2012 semester (Dates and times TBA). In addition to the group meetings, you will receive personal advising sessions on developing professional skills such as resume writing and interview strategies, as well as individual mentoring sessions focusing on how to combine academic, intellectual and personal interests into broader career goals, and then how to come up with a future academic and/or professional plan that will enable you to reach your broader goals.

The meetings will focus on strategies for connecting your interests to professional opportunities. It will also enable you to plan ahead during college to enable you to pursue post-college opportunities you will find intellectually, professionally and personally fulfilling. These sessions will focus on connecting various academic and personal interests into various career goals, developing mentoring relationships on and off campus, pursuing opportunities during college that give you greater experience for opportunities you may want to pursue after college, and an introduction to networking. You will also participate in discussions on the challenges related to pursuing experiences related to professional goals (this includes graduate school vs. professional experience, taking unpaid internships, making rational professional choices in relationship to personal preferences and constraints), and understanding the personal and professional journey you need to take to reach your aspirations. Finally, a personal, mentoring relationship with two UVM alumni will also be arranged for each student who participates in the Professional Development Forum. All mentoring relationships will be arranged by the Professional Development Forum coordinator.

Fall 2012 Forum Schedule

Professional Development Forum Session 1

Date: Friday, August 31, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Program introduction

Professional Development Forum Session 2

Date: Friday, September 7, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Introduction to professional correspondence & etiquette

Professional Development Forum Session 3

Date: Friday, September 14, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Introduction to mentoring

Professional Development Forum Session 4

Date:Friday, September 21, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Articulating your personal mission, developing “why me” rationales

Professional Development Forum Session 5

Date:Friday, September 28, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Resume workshop

Professional Development Forum Session 6

Date:Friday,October 5, 12-12:50, University Heights North Multipurpose Room: What employers look for

Professional Development Forum Session 7

Date:Friday, October 12, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Reflection on alumni connection

Professional Development Forum Session 8

Date:Friday, October 19 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Cover letter workshop

Professional Development Forum Session 9

Date:Friday, October 26, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Introduction to Networking

Professional Development Forum Session 10

Date:Friday, November 2, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Writing a personal statement

Professional Development Forum Session 11

Date:Friday, November 9, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose RoomInterviewing Skills and Mock Interviews

Professional Development Forum Session 12

Date:Friday. November 30, 12-12:50, University Heights South Multipurpose Room: Final thoughts on personal statements, Closing discussion: The transition from college to post-college life

Information for Alumni Mentors

UVM alumni are invited to participate in the Professional Development Forum as student mentors. Alumni mentors will come from all professions, and ideally will come from areas related to professional interests students expressed during their spring 2012 advising session. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Professional Development Forum Coordinator Brit Chase.

Each student will be assigned two mentors: One mentor will be a "recent" UVM graduate; someone who has completed their study at UVM sometime within the past five to ten years who can serve as an advisor on issues related to transitioning from college to the first post college experience (internship, job, fellowship, graduate school etc.). This mentor can offer insight on the value of networking and taking the first professional steps on a path to larger career goals. The other mentor will be a mid or advanced-career mentor who offers the student more of an "employer perspective" in terms of what the general professional expectations; this includes applying for a job (resume, cover letter, interviews etc.), previous experience, professional demeanor, and workplace etiquette.

The forum is set up to be a sort of "practice" networking experience for students. It will be up to students to seek out and facilitate a connection with the mentor they will be assigned by the forum coordinator. Students will be assigned to talk to their alumni mentors about topics being discussed in the forum sessions, and during each forum session students will report back to their peers and the forum coordinator what they have learned from their e-conversations with their mentors. (Students and mentors are certainly encouraged to talk about other things beyond the forum topics, but this ensures that mentors and students will have a minimum of three to four conversations over the three months that the seminar is going on). Moreover, since this will be practice networking, mentors will be encouraged to offer students constructive feedback on how well they are maintaining the mentoring and networking relationship.

Mentor Responsibilities

The Honors College Professional Development Forum is designed to be a small-yet-significant experience for both the students and the alumni mentors. So the commitment from mentors to their individual mentees may seem small; at minimum mentors will have three to four conversations with the students covering issues related to identifying current interests and how they translate into professional opportunities, as well as career and professional development. Mentors may also pursue opportunities to participate in the forum through being a guest speaker as well as participating in panel discussions.

Give students a positive mentoring experience: In order to make the mentoring relationship significant and convenient for both the student and the mentor, the mentoring relationship will mostly occur through e-mail, phone, skype, g-chat etc. Alumni mentors are asked to follow general etiquette; respond in a (reasonably) timely manner, and take the time to offer the student some insight. (i.e. rather than sending an e-mail with a couple sentences, an e-mail with a couple paragraphs about the topic being discussed would be more appropriate).

It's important for the alumni mentors to remember that, at the end of the day, it's up to the students to put in the effort to facilitate and nurture the mentoring relationship. The application process ensures that alumni mentors will have the chance to work with motivated students who have sought out an opportunity to have this relationship and who want to develop this relationship. But some students will simply be more talkative than others, so if a mentee is not as talkative (most likely, s/he is shy), alumni mentors should not take it personally.

Address a forum or participate in a workshop panel session: During each of the three evening sessions one to two alums will be invited to address the group. Alumni mentors will be invited to speak about issues related to workplace etiquette, professional development, the post-college career path, and strategies to secure the first post-college professional experience. Because of timing and geographic constraints, mentors will be brought to the group using digital video chat technology such as Skype or g-chat (unless they specify that they are able to appear in person). Mentors can also choose to participate in one of the professional advising panels. Panel sessions and times for 2012 have not yet been announced.

Timeline for Mentor Commitment

Depending on their level of interest and commitment level, each mentor will be assigned one to three students. Students will begin connecting with their alumni mentors when the forum begins in early September, and will have around 1-2 electronic or phone conversations a month (the timeline for contacting mentors will vary for each student, but will probably fall close to the session dates). Each mentoring relationship will end when the forum ends in December 2012. Students and mentors are more than welcome to continue to stay in touch after the December, but the forum coordinator will no longer be officially involved in the mentorship.

Forum Contact Information
Brit Chase, Student Fellowships Advisor, 802-656-4658

Applying to Participate in the Professional Development Forum

Current Honors College juniors, sophomores and first year students are invited to apply on a competitive basis to participate in the Fall 2012 Professional Development Forum. A maximum of 25 students will be invited to participate in this forum.

To be eligible for the fall forum, students must submit a completed application by Monday, April 16 at 4 p.m. The application can be printed out and dropped off at the Office of Fellowships Advising (17a University Heights North), or applicants can e-mail their completed materials to

Application Form(doc)

For more information:

Contact Britten Chase, Student Fellowships Advisor, 802-656-4658

Last modified April 12 2012 12:26 PM