Generate career success: first generation resources

Daniela joined the Office of Career Development in July 2018 as a Graduate Assistant Career Advisor. She strives to connect students with catered opportunities and is especially excited to support students at NSU and help them achieve their goals.


Being the first person in your family to attend a four-year college or university is a huge accomplishment, and this identity comes with its own unique considerations. 

As a first-generation graduate, I remember wondering where my place would be in the world, especially with the college environment feeling so foreign to me. I felt unfamiliar with the job-search process and had no idea what to major in. It’s also not uncommon for first-generation college students to try to shake off some imposter syndrome feelings of not belonging, but they absolutely do belong, and they bring some amazing assets and perspectives to the table.


The Career Development Office is here to support all students throughout their professional journey. From my college experience, these were tips that helped me navigate through my wandering career adventure: 


Career exploration with an advisor – ask all your questions 

When I started college, I was only aware of the traditional fields in the world: education, medicine, law and maybe dance, if I was feeling extra fun. First-generation students are among the top groups of people to remain undecided in their major and career path, and sometimes it takes talking to a career advisor to brainstorm some passion areas and strengths. 


You may also have some practical considerations when weighing out careers, like family obligations or salary. At the career center, we can explore different fields that combine your passions along with practical factors to create a meaningful career option. 


Webinars and online resources 

When it comes to designing a resume, cover letter or LinkedIn for the first time, online guides can be a huge help. On Handshake, we have online resources to access sample resumes and cover letters, tips for applying to graduate school and more.


Handshake also provides access to our CareerTube, which is an online video portal to watch webinars on topics like salary negotiations and internship searches. Many first-generation students also live with multiple identities, whether it be a disability, veteran status, LGBTQIA+ community or more. Our resources provide tips on navigating the unique challenges associated with these identities. 


Cultivate professional relationships and mentorships 

Networking and sharing your story with people can lead to some great, genuine relationships with people who can become a mentor or colleague. A mentor can help you gain insight on career paths you may see yourself pursuing, and you can learn real steps on how to attain those goals.


Financial support 

NSU’s campus has multiple avenues to alleviate financial stress for your career opportunities. Our office has a Career Closet for students to take home one free professional outfit, which is useful when professional clothes are typically on the expensive side. For first-generation students wanting to study abroad, even when it seems unlikely, there are a multitude of scholarships in the Office of International Affairs to help alleviate the cost and have an unforgettable experience. 


Capitalize on your strengths and assets 

Oftentimes, first-generation college students work full-time or part-time jobs during their program, giving them experiences to stand out when they graduate. This shows perseverance and commitment to persistence in their goals. They also bring a unique grit factor to overcoming obstacles that attracts employers as they show a willingness to take risks and be the first to do something valuable, like pursuing higher education. 


Take pride in your work and community! We are always here to support our resilient first-generation students in finding their place at the university. Let’s pave the way together.

Photo: Career Development Office

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