First Generation Students

As a first-generation college student, you have many unique strengths, qualities and skills that will help you on your career journey and move you towards career success! A few examples include initiative, persistence, focus, motivation, self-awareness, resilience, responsibility, commitment, independence, resourcefulness, problem-solving, being value driven, and determination.

Lynn Wiljanen with Career Convergence points out additional important qualities you bring as a first-generation student:

• A willingness to be first and take risks in pursuing a career

• A genuine, intrinsic desire to have a better life through higher education

• Wanting to bring pride to their family, school, and community with their academic and career achievements

• A resilient spirit with the ability to persist in your goals and dreams

• The desire and ability to overcome the odds of poverty, circumstance, lack of family support, and institutional barriers

Career Tips for First-Generation College Students

Create Meaningful Relationships. Have courage to share your unique story with others who can be your mentors and travel with you on your career journey. Developing connections and building your social capital will help you learn about careers, give you insights into the internship and job search, and develop your network. Faculty, advisors, supervisors and peers can all be great resources!

• It’s okay to ask questions. Your family members can help you answer questions about your history and values, which is a big part of finding meaning in your career. Your peers can help you answer questions about your own college experience because they may be going through it as well. Faculty, staff, and alums can help answer questions you have about career resources and share their stories.

• Gain Experience. A college degree is only part of what you need for career success. A career advisor can work with you to find great opportunities to explore and experience different types of work and environments.

You are already on your path to career success! Keep going! Take time to acknowledge your strengths and many accomplishments. Then assess where you are in the process, determine your next steps and who can help you move forward.


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