Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

First Generation College Students Gain Career Assistance

USC Career Center offers professional support to first generation college students.

College life can be difficult for first generation students, especially since no one in their family has experienced it. The Career Center’s “First Generation College Students: Navigating your Career Needs” was the first of many events on campus aimed towards acknowledging and supporting these students in their academic pursuits. Geoffrey Cruz, the event coordinator and the Career Center’s Internship and Diversity Programs Advisor, says such events will not only provide resources for students, but will also connect them to other individuals who can relate to their experiences.

 “Students may feel the need to connect to other folks who come from similar backgrounds as them, so it’s also a way to find a community too,” he says.

This year, USC has seen an increase in the number of first generation students, as opposed to the last few years when numbers remained relatively low. Cruz says some students are reluctant to pursue higher education because they may not know anyone who has gone to college.

“One of the challenges that we see with our first generation college student population is that they may not necessarily know someone, whether a close friend or family member, who went through the college experience,” he says

This, he says, is where the services provided at the Career Center prove to be beneficial for them. 

“Within the career center, we’re talking about being able to find someone who has experience with applying to jobs, going on interviews,” he says. “If some of these students’ parents weren’t in the field that they’re interested in pursuing, they may not necessarily have the knowledge or resource of how to get that ideal job.”

Though some studies have shown that first generation students often find it harder than non-first generations to focus in school, USC’s President, Dr. Max Nikias says his experiences with them has proven otherwise.

“When they come to a university like USC, they are hungrier than ever before to succeed academically, and they become the pride of their extended family,” says Nikias.

With the decision to pursue higher education, there sometimes comes much pressure for these students. And while the burden seems to fall primarily on them, students like Steven Truong say parents of first generation students often feel their own sense of stress.

“I’m sure my parents feel frustrated, because they can’t help me,” he says. “They’ve never had the experience so there’s no way they can give me answers when I have questions.”

Nonetheless, many first generation students are proud to be able to be an example for their families, surpass their own expectations and accomplish their goals.

Leave a comment

We've Moved!

By Sam Bergum
01/21/16 | 11:09 a.m. PST

Visit us at!

USC Basketball Knocks Off Rival UCLA 89- 75

By Scott Cook
01/14/16 | 12:05 a.m. PST

USC defeats UCLA with stellar play from their Freshmen. 

Holiday Bowl - USC vs Wisconsin Post-Game Press Conference

Su'a Cravens: "It's the players that need to step up"

Darreus Rogers: "It comes down to the players"

Trojans Fall to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl 23-21

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.