Career Resources for First Generation and/or Low Income Students
Being a first-generation college student means you are the first in your immediate family to graduate from a four-year institution like Northwestern. Some first-gen students also come from a lower-income background where their parents’ income levels are strenuous on their families and therefore have a higher financial need during their time at Northwestern. Students with these backgrounds are often referred to as FGLI students (first-generation and/or low-income students).
Discussing your FGLI Identity with Potential Employers
Whether you are attending a company information session or meeting someone at a networking event, your FGLI identity may come up in conversation. Being a FGLI student IS relevant and it IS a part of your story. You have overcome many hurdles before and during your time at Northwestern and that is noteworthy. Mentioning parts of your background during a conversation like your hometown or part-time work experience shows employers that you are hard-working and determined. People remember details about others and chances are that an employer may also able to relate to your story and experience.
Grit and Transferrable Skills
- Employers want to hire candidates that are reliable and responsible. You have already proven what you can do. It’s time to show it.
- Between managing your course load, part-time job(s), family check-ins, extra-curricular activities, friends and more, you may find yourself feeling stretched thin. There is true fatigue in getting it all done, but here is where you start to put yourself first. Let’s think about your transferrable skills.
- Transferrable skills are skills that you have developed through a variety experiences that can be applied to many different jobs and career paths. You have many that you may not even be aware of; give some thought to how your career can be enhanced by what you offer as a first gen student. Here are some examples of what it means to use grit and transferrable skills in the workplace:
- Time Management: You are used to being busy and you always get the job done.
- Prioritization: You know what your values are and how to arrange your to do list accordingly.
- Multitasking & Balance: You’ve probably worked a part-time job while being in school and you understand how to manage tasks when they start to pile on
- Work Ethic: You know what it takes and you will work hard to make it happen.
- Strength & Reliability: People know they can count on you and you will put your best effort forward.
Resilience and Self-Promotion
It’s strange talking about yourself, let alone trying to say how great you are. Chances are you are uncomfortable with self-promotion and really can’t think of the last time you probably had to say nice things about yourself. That’s okay! We are here to tell how you can do it humbly and still promote the wonderful future employee that you can be.
- Add transferrable skills to your resume: Include those past retail, babysitting, or high school activities. When first building up your resume you’ll need to think about your previous work experiences as these were all learning moments for you and that is exactly what employers want to see. Make an appointment with your NCA career adviser via Handshake to help you at any stage of resume writing.
- Don’t shy away from including your scholarships or grants: For example, if you are a QuestBridge Scholar, you NEED to include this on your resume. These programs are wonderful achievements and show employers that you are a determined and committed student. You are already a success story and this could very well be a talking or connection point with someone who is reviewing your resume.
- Develop a 2-minute story about yourself: Think of this as your go-to notes about yourself the next time you get asked “what do you do?” or “what do you want to do”. Think about courses you’ve taken, your favorite project you’ve worked on, what you might want to do after Northwestern (even if that might change several times – it’s totally normal!).
What to Know about your Career Options
There are a vast amount of career options that many students have not heard about and taking some time to explore your options can help you discover new opportunities you may have never known about before. You certainly should not discount anything as a potential option until you have explored it.
- Make a career counseling appointment: NCA career counselors can help you discover your career interests and fill you in on the many options available to you.
- Attend career programs like workshops and information sessions: NCA also hosts a variety of programs each quarter so that students can learn more about industries and help them decide whether it will be the right path for them. Visit the Events section in Handshake to view current programs.
- Talk to your family and friends, but remember this is your path: Your career path is a deeply personal decision and will take time to think through. You’ll be considering what you would enjoy in your day to day and things you know you might not want to do at all. Those are all important aspects to keep in mind when weighing career options.
Recruiting Trends and Timelines
- Recruiting timelines vary industry by industry and may shift due to changes in the economy or employer needs. NCA career advisers can help you get on track for being considered for a specific industry by providing information on recruiting timelines for your field of interest as well as what preparing for a career will look like in that industry.
- NCA's employer relations team works very closely with employers who are interested in hiring students like you. They also keep NCA career advisers informed with up-to-date information for their student appointments. We are all here to serve you.
Know Your Value and Feel Confident
- Deciding on a career is a big step and it doesn’t usually happen overnight. By educating yourself with resources available to you at NCA and online, you will feel more confident when it comes time to the internship or job search as well as networking with professionals.
- You have the skills and knowledge; your next step is working on how to present it, whether that is on your resume, a cover letter, or a conversation with someone you may be interested in working for one day. If you know how to talk about yourself and your interests, you will feel better about meeting new people and sharing all the amazing things you have to offer.
Northwestern Career Resources Just for You
- Career Development Fund: This fund offers undergraduate students with financial need funding support for travel to job/internship interviews, travel to graduate/professional school interviews, and the purchase of an interview suit.
- ‘Cats Closet: A collection of new or gently used professional and business casual attire that has been generously donated. Any Northwestern student can choose up to 3 apparel items or a suit per academic year.
- Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP): SIGP provides a $3,000 grant to undergraduate students with financial need to support their living expenses while they are pursuing unpaid internships or other summer experiences. Students can apply without having their internship secured in early April each academic year in which they are returning for the fall quarter.
- Northwestern Network Mentorship Program: A platform designed to connect students with Northwestern alumni for mentoring relationships. Alumni mentors come from a variety of career paths class years, academic programs and schools. Alumni mentors can also be identified by first generation status during their time as a student at Northwestern.