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Students & Youth

Career development support for first-generation students

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First-generation post-secondary students are undergraduates whose parents or caregivers did not complete college or university. They often face a range of social and economic challenges such as having limited professional contacts and financial resources. Here are some suggestions to set up first-generation students for successful career development.

Career development needs of first-generation students (NACE) [Article]

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is geared to an American audience, but offers insights on common barriers first-generation students face, as well as solutions from career services, admissions, arts and culture, faculty and student affairs.

Eight Best Practices to Support First-Generation and Low-Income Students in Post-Secondary School (YouthREX) [Evidence brief]

The practices outlined here can be integrated into program design, development and evaluation. Some examples include avoiding one-size-fits-all approaches and considering students’ multiple responsibilities.

Rise Up for First-Generation Students through Career Development (The Career Leadership Collective) [Blog]

While based in the US, this post provides actionable suggestions to help educators and career professionals serve the career needs of first-generation students. Suggestions include cross-campus collaboration and intentional approaches.

Serving Our First-Generation University Students (Career Convergence) [Article]

A magazine article geared for an American audience explores the lack of social capital and financial pressures that may hinder first-generation students pursuing experiential learning. Support strategies to help with career readiness include creating a paid, holistic internship program and integrated career content in key courses.

The Challenge of First Generation College Students (Psychology Today) [Article]

This piece breaks down the psychological, academic, financial and social challenges first-generation students often face, while offering advice for students and their allies.

University resources
First Generation Programming and Community Outreach (Toronto Metropolitan University) [Program]

The Tri-Mentoring Program aims to help first-generation students through information sharing on scholarships and bursaries, networking, volunteer opportunities and events. It also helps students explore future academic and career options.

First Generation Student Engagement (University of Toronto) [Program]

For first-generation students and individuals with intersectional identities, this program focuses on connection to help students navigate barriers to access and inclusion. It provides connections to academic, career, wellness and many other services to foster a sense of belonging and community.

First Generation Student Support (McGill University) [Program]

Support through this program includes career planning, self-care, volunteering, networking and financial wellness. The student guide and peer group aim to help students access emotional and academic support.

First Generation Students Union (University of British Columbia) [Student organization]

Career resources include job boards, peer coaches, community-based learning, and volunteer and leadership opportunities. There are also workshops on inclusion and breaking down barriers for refugee and displaced students.

Rise First [Resources]

This platform has more than 1,200 resources to help first-generation, low-income students. While it is for American students, there are resources like webinars that touch on topics such as starting a career off right and debt management.

The Microbiology & Immunology First-Generation University Student Mentorship Program (University of British Columbia) [Program]

An opportunity to receive one-on-one mentoring from Dr. Mike Gold, Head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology from 2009-2019. Students can also receive partial funding for enhanced learning.

Additional reading

Katrina Rozal Author
Katrina Rozal is a Communication Specialist. She has 10 years of combined experience in producing content for Canadian news media and the British non-profit sector.
Katrina Rozal Author
Katrina Rozal is a Communication Specialist. She has 10 years of combined experience in producing content for Canadian news media and the British non-profit sector.
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