Finding jobs and internships as a first-generation grad

Finding jobs and internships as a first-generation grad was originally published on College Recruiter.

For first-generation college students, the entire college experience is completely new and uncharted. With no family to lean on for advice and support in terms of knowing the ins and outs of college life, it’s no wonder that a recent College Finance survey showed that 76 percent of first-gen college students felt pressure to do well academically.

Once the pressure of graduating subsides, a new challenge awaits: finding a job. Those with families that also went to college might have an easier time navigating the job market or looking for an internship, but first-generation graduates are completely on their own.

First-generation graduate Tyler Reed told U.S. News in an interview that he didn’t have the family or even the resources to help him navigate the post-college world.

“Family friends of blue-collar families are going to be different from the family friends of white-collar families,” he said. “Coming from a background without higher education or people connected with higher education, there’s not many connections my family could help with.”

So, what can first-generation graduates do to find a job or internship after graduating? The reality is that these grads only have the connections they make in school to rely on, rather than connections that family might have. What this means is that first-generation grads need to network a lot more aggressively and a lot differently than others.

One thing that hiring managers and companies can do to open the door to potential employees who don’t have connections is to expand and diversify their recruiting process. This can be accomplished by doing things like posting jobs on boards and sites that are designed more for people from a variety of educational backgrounds, and even something as simple as altering the education requirements for a role.

Graduates should also try joining online communities for entry level professionals, or even Facebook groups in their industry of choice – which can be great for networking with people already climbing the ladder and potentially connecting with someone who can help guide them towards a job or internship.

LinkedIn is an invaluable tool in today’s landscape, so growing your network is a crucial step in starting your career. First-generation grads should connect on LinkedIn with as many people as possible in their field of choice; sending messages and engaging with people can go a long way as well. Treat LinkedIn like your preferred social networking platform, and you’ll acquire enough connections to potentially help you get noticed in one way or another.

First-generation graduates have a uniquely difficult challenge in front of them, since so much of entering the professional world is about who you know. And with COVID-19 proving to be an ongoing concern – 67% of graduates are concerned that the economic consequences of the pandemic will impact their career field – things can certainly feel hopeless at times for first-gen grads. But with some creative networking, determination, and hopefully more inclusive recruiting on the part of employers, navigating the post-college career market doesn’t have to be an impossible task.

By Sean Kelly - College Recruiter
College Recruiter
College Recruiter believes that every student and recent grad deserves a great career. Each year, we help more than 3 million students and recent grads find part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level jobs requiring 0-3 years of experience.