First Generation College Students

Navigating college AND planning a career is challenging for any student, and we want to make sure USF first generation students are set up for success!  Career planning may sound overwhelming, but it can also be as simple as thinking about what excites you, what you are good at, and then meeting with a career counselor who can help you create a plan for yourself that will help you find a job and a career path that you will enjoy long after college.  The sooner you start this process, the sooner you will find your direction and have a greater chance at success after graduation!

Here are five things you can do NOW to be career-ready as a first-generation college student:

By building community, you will find the support you need for your overall college success. Get involved in student organizations, the Cultural Center, meet other first generation college students, choose a mentor through the Alumni Mentor Program, and explore on-campus jobs to help you make new friendships that will give you a sense of "home away from home."  As you explore activities, consider those that match your professional and career interests.

The Career Services Center can help you clarify your future career goals, build your confidence, connect you with experiences, and help you make connections with others that can help you along your career journey.

  • If you are unsure of what you can do with your major, schedule an appointment with a career advisor to explore possible career paths.
  • If you need help writing a resume or cover letter, finding a job or internship, or preparing for an interview, book an appointment or attend a workshop
  • Engage with employers at a Career Fair or an employer information session to learn about possible careers.  

We are here to ensure you have the skills and resources you need to become career ready, and will meet you wherever you are on your career journey. 

    Internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work will all help you clarify your job interests and career goals.  This kind of hands-on experience will help you develop the transferable skills employers are looking for.  The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) suggests that students who complete a paid internship are more likely to get a full-time job offer!

    Log onto Handshake to explore internship and job opportunities. Book an appointment or come visit a counselor during Drop-Ins (Tues/Thurs 11:45-12:45), with no appointment required!

      Networking is important for career success, and 80 percent of jobs are found through networking.  Networking is meeting and talking to people who can help offer advice, information, and talking to people who can give you more insight about the career path and types of jobs you are interested in.

      👉 Join LinkedIn and NetworkUSF to build your professional network with employers, USF students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

      👉Develop professional relationships with faculty and staff who can serve as mentors and connect you with other professionals in the field, or offer valuable resources and information.  

      👉Develop your network with other professionals outside of USF by looking into career fields that are of interest by attending employer information sessions and events.  Every semester, the USF Career Center sponsors alumni employer panels, Pop-Ins/Pop-Ups, Career Fairs, and Employer of the Day events that give you a personal introduction to employers who want to help you succeed!

      What skills have you developed as a first-generation college student? On your journey to college, you developed resilience, resourcefulness, and determination. When writing your resume and cover letter, talk about your initiative, persistence, focus, motivation, self-awareness, resilience, responsibility, commitment, independence, resourcefulness, problem-solving, determination, and adaptability.  Your skills and experiences can help you succeed in new and unfamiliar places and spaces, and prospective employers will see value in that.

      Some examples of how to use these skills in a cover letter or resume might include:

      Adaptability: You thrive in unfamiliar environments and are confident in your decision-making ability. You learn new things quickly and aren't afraid to try new ways of doing things. You're flexible when new things are asked of you.

      Resourcefulness: You effectively organize, assemble and arrange resources to meet goals. You demonstrate self-reliance and resourcefulness. You achieve success when presented with limited resources.

      Initiative: You demonstrate a high level of initiative. You effectively apply new concepts and techniques. You take initiative in the absence of detailed instructions.

      Dependability: You are consistent, dependable and accurate in carrying out responsibilities to a successful conclusion.  

      Problem-Solving: You excel in creative thinking and problem solving. You demonstrate a strong ability to identify, analyze and solve problems.

      Career Counselors can help you clarify your major and career plans, show you how to find jobs and internships, as well as how to present your skills in resumes and job interviews. Below are some questions that might be helpful to ask in your career counseling appointment

      • Can you tell me more about what the Career Services Center offers?
      • I do not enjoy my classes and I am wondering if this is the right major for me.
      • Can you give me information on how to start a… (resume/cover letter/internship search/job search)?
      • What are possible career options for my major? What kinds of jobs have graduates in my major obtained?
      • How much experience do I need for an internship? 
      • How can I find jobs/internships in my major?
      • How might I find alumni who can help me in my job search?
      • What can I expect to be asked in a job interview?  How should I prepare?
      • If I am offered a job, should I negotiate my salary? What do I need to know?
      • Should I consider graduate school?  
      • What is networking and how do I get started?
      • What should I be doing now as a student so I can get a good job after graduation?


      What's the Difference? Job vs. Career

      • job is the work you do to get paid. Getting a job is a one-time event (i.e. a cashier, a babysitter, a server). 
      • career can be one job or many jobs within the same type of work over many years. A career has a goal of improving your skills so you can grow in your job, or move into another job with greater responsibility (i.e. you volunteered at the local hospital, then were hired as a Home Health Aide, then became a Certified Nursing Assistant, then attended Nursing School to become a Nurse. Your career is in Health Care). To have a career, think about what type of work you want to do in the future, and what education you will need to meet your goals.

      Spring 2021 Workshop: "From First Gen to First Job"