If you are a first-generation student, you are not alone. In fact, many students who attend a college or university are the first in their family to do so. Career Services is available to assist first-generation Redbirds with their career plans.

Choosing a career

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), “the resource that yielded the largest difference between first-generation and non-first-generation students was the use of parents and/or relatives in the job search.” Many students on campus don’t realize that Career Services not only helps with sharing job search strategies but also career and major exploration.

Choosing a career path is a big decision, and it’s hard to know where to start. Career Services offers these tips to help:

  • FOCUS 2 Career is an online self-guided career and education planning tool used to select major programs and career fields compatible with one’s personal interests, skills, and goals.
  • IDS 106 Career Choice course, a for-credit interdisciplinary studies course on the theory of career decision making.
  • Informational interviews are informal conversations you can have with professionals working in an area of interest to you.

Job search

You can meet with a career advisor for help with your career development as well. Your career advisor can assist you with creating your resume, providing tips for the job search, and help you to connect with professionals in your industry.

“Career Services meets with students from all class standings, freshmen through graduate students, to discuss topics such as resume writing, interviewing, networking and so much more,” states Career Services Assistant Director Susan Whitsitt.

Career readiness and networking programs and opportunities

Career Services also offers various programs each semester to provide students with opportunities to develop their career readiness skills and to connect with professionals. Career Services’ annual programs include the Career Readiness Series, InstaCareer, Career Chats, the Cultural Career Network well as career fairs and internship fairs.

In addition, if you’re thinking about going to graduate school, the Graduate School Series (GSS) is hosted each semester and can be very helpful to first-generation graduate students. The series covers a number of topics such as a general overview of the application process, identifying how to finance your higher education, identifying programs, and more.

Career resources

Career Services also provides a number of career resources to help students navigate their careers. Hire-A-Redbird connects you to the right people, tools, and resources to accomplish your professional goals. Located within Hire-A-Redbird, GoinGlobal is a career toolkit that helps you find opportunities abroad and contains lots of helpful information for international students.

Interview Stream is a tool that lets you practice your interview skills. Go through mock interviews, perfect your pitch for employers, and start feeling good about your upcoming interview. Use one of our huddle rooms to focus on landing the job. It’s great for practicing or even interviewing on the phone. They’re fully equipped with phones and computers, and they’re distraction-free.

There are a number of other resources that Career Services provides to help students to brand themselves professionally such as free resume printing and free business cards.

Involvement opportunities

If you’re a first-generation student consider getting involved on campus early on. There are a variety of Registered Student Organizations (RSO’s) on campus you can join. “First-Gen Redbirds” is an organization on campus dedicated to first-generation students. First-Gen Redbirds supports first-generation college students academically, socially, and financially by providing tips and referrals, to increase awareness of the campus community regarding the needs of first-generation students.

You can also join TRIO, a student-oriented program that provides services to individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in post-secondary education. From enrollment to graduation, TRIO is dedicated to offering individualized assistance to enhance the academic, personal, and professional potential of students.

Being involved could help connect you with professionals in the career you wish to pursue. This, in addition to connecting with a career advisor and attending career-related programs, will help you prepare for professional life after college and achieve career success.

If you’re a first-generation college student Career Services is here to assist you along your career journey.