First Generation Tips for Succeeding in the Workplace

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Brad Taylor is a first generation college student and an AnBryce Scholar at New York University majoring in business, marketing, and communications. He is in his junior year working at NYU’s Wasserman Center for Career Development and as a Resident Assistant at Founders Hall. In the Fall semester, Brad will be continuing as a Resident Assistant and working at CNBC as an Assignment Desk intern. During his freshman and sophomore year, he worked 50 hours a week at Aeropostale in Times Square and at the Career Development Center. Follow him on LinkedIn:

For most students, college is a life-changing experience moving from adolescence into adulthood. For first-generation college students, the transition can be even more challenging since this journey is new for you and your parents. It’s important to reach out and build relationships with NYU peers, faculty, and administrators to create your own support group. Here are some tips to succeed in your college experience while being a first generation student:

Use any and all resources you can.

Unlike other students, first gens often don’t have Mom and Dad to look to for college advice and it can be hard to ask others for assistance. Take the resources that come your way and use them to their full advantage–and the great thing is NYU’s services are enormous, use them for your benefit.

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb.

Try new things–playing it safe will only get you so far. Internships, part-time jobs, volunteering are among many work related activities you can get involved in. Never be too embarrassed to attempt something new or ask if you’re curious. Attend NYU’s Clubfest to see activities offered at NYU and check out NYU CareerNet for job opportunities.

Make goals but embrace change.

It’s not surprising that first generation students are 25% less likely to finish college and earn a Bachelor’s Degree (Smith 2012). Don’t get discouraged. Make your goals, but don’t be upset if your goals change. Failure makes us that much stronger and embracing change will make you more adaptable for whatever comes your way.

Work Hard, Play Harder.

Others are given internships/jobs through family and other connections. But you’re not alone, there is a NYU community of people dedicated to making sure you succeed – NYU alumni, professors, students, staff, etc. Use these connections and use the university for all that it’s worth.

Find Balance.

The key to your success will be balance, organization, and time management. With your academic, work, and family responsibilities, it will be important to find a way to balance your obligations and personal commitments. Remember it’s hard work that got you here and will also help keep you here.

Ask For Support from Your Family.

Since your parents did not pursue a degree, they may not understand what you are experiencing and the amount of stress your obligations will put on you. Give your family members an idea of what college life is like and tell them how they can best support you. Having your parents in the loop will not only give you another leg to stand on, but can give you comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

For more tips on succeeding as a first generation college student & to gain a better understanding and familiarity with the internship process RSVP to Succeeding In Your Internship Webinar 9/11 on NYU CareerNet!


Smith, Nicole. (n.d.): n. pag. First Generation College Students. Georgetown University, 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.