Career Exploration as a First-Gen Student

Monday was National First-Gen day. As a first-gen student and now as a career coach, I would like to recognize how that status may impact career exploration and the career preparation process. First, to all current first-gen students, congratulations on what you have accomplished! The road may not have been easy but you made it to Denison University. You have incredible grit, tenacity, and the ability to get things done, often on your own. While these are admirable traits, career exploration is not something you should be doing on your own. If you haven’t already, get to the Knowlton Center (KC) and learn about the incredible resources we have to help you figure out your future life. Know what you want after Denison? Great, utilize KC resources and staff to make that plan a reality. 


As you are exploring and preparing, you will hear a lot about  “networking.” As a first-gen, you may feel like you lack connections or don’t have people you can network with. I want to assure everyone that our staff will be happy to teach you how to use the Denison network to find people who are doing the work you are interested in. You need to talk with people, learn about the good days and the bad, to find out if your intended career is right for you. Once you have focused on your career goals, you need to network to build your personal team of advisors. No one can help you with your job search if no one knows what you are interested in or capable of. 

If you don’t like the word “networking,” let’s call it building your professional community! Nervous about the whole process? We will assist every step of the way, including helping you draft your first messages. 

In closing, be proud, own your first-gen story. Do not go through the career process alone, let the Knowlton Center staff and your faculty help you. 

By Michele Doran
Michele Doran Senior Associate Director - Career Exploration