The Importance of Networking for First-Gens

Updated: Nov 4, 2021


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Students whose parent(s) did not attend college often don’t have connections in the professional workplace. We attend college with the mindset to get good grades and earn our degrees. We weren’t told the importance of networking in college. Those whose parent(s) have a bachelor’s degree are more likely to have connections with people in various fields. Eighty percent of jobs are not published online. A lot of these positions are filled by friends or acquaintances of employees.


Alfred Lubrano wrote an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how first-gen students lack affluent connections to find their first job. Lubrano shared a story of a student who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Cathy Tran graduated with a sociology degree and a 3.96 grade point average, then struggled to find a job. Her peers with lower grades could find a job quickly after graduation with the help of their parents’ personal network.


People often land jobs from networking. It can sound intimidating to students with no experience of it.


Where to start?

You can start networking by reaching out to your professors. Professors are there to help students succeed in college. The first step is to get professors to know who you are. You can talk to them after class or attend their office hours. You may be wondering what do you talk about with them? It could be about anything related to the course or their work. Lastly, make sure to build genuine relationships with your professors.


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What are other ways to network?

Clubs and organizations:

You can network by joining clubs and organizations geared towards your major. It can help you meet other students who are studying the same field as you. National organizations often host conferences with other groups across the nation, allowing you to meet professionals and network with other young people off-campus. You can also join clubs that focus on career development. Clubs geared towards career development often offers events on resume critiques, professional network and interview advice.


Drexel University offers clubs and national organizations for different majors such as Public Relations Student Society of America, Drexel Women in Business and Drexel American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Many colleges offer similar clubs like Drexel University. You can find a list of clubs and organizations on your school’s website.


Below are links to clubs and organizations at colleges in Philadelphia.


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Internships:

Take advantage of your summer break and apply for internships. Internships allow you to meet people in the workplace who could potentially be a part of your network. Finding an internship related to your major not only helps you gain experience but can get your foot in the door when applying to jobs after graduation.


Many undergrads shy away from networking because it’s intimidating. Networking during college can help you secure a job after graduation. The people you network with might know a friend of a friend who could help you find a job in the future.