Business / college / First-Generation College Grads Face More Hurdles in the Job Market

First-Generation College Grads Face More Hurdles in the Job Market
4 min read
fairly difficult
Students whose parents didn't go to college often work instead of joining extracurricular activities, and can lag peers on skills like résumé writing.
"They are very concerned about stability, and because of that they are also more likely to accept a job that doesn't require a degree, even though they have one," says Shawn VanDerziel, executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

When first-generation students do aim high, still other research shows that employers prefer candidates from elite universities who are more likely to be from higher income levels and social classes and families in which other people have degrees.

"It's just the reality of coming from a different background," says Louis, who found help from a nonprofit called Braven that teaches job search skills and pushed her into internships—one of which became a full-time job as a program manager at the Amazon subsidiary AWS. "You're not at the same place as your colleagues, even though you may be just as qualified. You're reaching harder to reach those same goals."

That newest research followed 516 undergraduates at Florida State University. It found that first-generation graduates may be less knowledgeable about job search requirements, such as how to write résumés or act in interviews; less self-confident, and have less access to the kinds of networks other students have.

"When you're a first-generation college student, there are going to be some things in your life you can't turn to your family for." Christelle Louis, Rutgers-Newark graduate

First-generation graduates more often land in jobs in the public and not-for-profit sectors, which tend to pay less than private and for-profit employers, NASPA reports.

"In theory they have the same degree from the same institution—they should be on the same level playing field when they enter the…
Jon Marcus
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