FirstGenU Career Institute program provides resources for first-generation students

By Faith Jarrell

Student Life Editor

Washington College partnered with the organization America Needs You to promote FirstGenU, a virtual program for first-generation college students.

The FirstGenU Career Institute program is made for first-generation college students to better prepare them for the workforce. The program lasts for five weeks and is made up of 10 self-navigated modules.

“The FirstGenU Career Institute is designed to help first-generation college students build the skills and confidence they need to thrive in the workforce,” FirstGenU Director Leah Hegeholz said. “We know students are busy so each module takes less than an hour to complete and is entirely self-paced, meaning that students can fit this into their schedule however works best for them.”

In order to join the program, students must identify as first-generation college students and be actively enrolled in college. Two separate pathways will be offered for students who choose to participate. The first pathway is the “Job Search Skills Pathway” to prepare students for the workforce. The second pathway is the “Leadership Skills Pathway” to prepare students for leadership roles in future occupations.

“It’s important for first-generation college students to have access to a program like FirstGenU because many of the skills we cover in our curriculum are not explicitly taught in the classroom,” Hegeholz said. “The FirstGenU Career Institute provides clear guidance for how

students can develop these essential skills, and 99% of students report that they feel more prepared to pursue their career goals after completing our program.”

According to an article posted by Forbes, which was updated in June 2023, 56% of current undergraduates are first-generation college students themselves. With such a large population, these students should have access to the necessary resources, which is not always the case.

Emily Dunsmore ‘23 was a first-generation college student when she first arrived at WC. Dunsmore wished that she had such a resource during that time.

“I remember feeling pretty lost and unsure throughout most of the first year college process,” Dunsmore said. “Having resources available for those students can really help alleviate anxiety and stress about what would otherwise be unknown.”

Associate Director of Career Development Lisa Moody has her own thoughts as a former first-generation college student.

“First of all, be proud. That’s a wonderful accomplishment. Again, I was first generation, but being so now has opened the doors to my own children who now have multiple degrees,” Moody said. “The other advice that I would give is number one, don’t be ashamed of it. Number two, ask questions when you don’t understand.”

Dunsmore agreed, saying that “guidance and resources are always great” for any students and especially for first-generation students.

To join the FirstGenU Career Institute program for fall 2023, students must register by Tuesday, Sept. 26. The fall session is set to start Monday, Oct. 2, and end Sunday, Nov. 5.

A second information session is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 20, on Zoom at 7 p.m.

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