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FLI: First-Generation, Low Income

Where to start?

Think of your career counselor like your academic advisor or another mentor -- someone to help you find your own unique path. Meet with a career counselor to discuss how your background, interests, and experiences can translate into careers. Career counselors can provide one-on-one support and provide tailored resources for you. To learn more, schedule a time to meet with a career counselor or stop by and talk to a Career Peer Advisor any weekday afternoon from 1:00 to 4:30pm.

What is Handshake?

Handshake is our primary jobs and internships database. In a sea of databases, it's often hard to tell what is quality and appropriate for Swatties. Look through Handshake for opportunities from employers (including alumni) who specifically want to hire Swatties. 

How do I apply for opportunities and prepare for interviews?

Career counselors and career peer advisors will help you develop targeted resumes, cover letters, and personal statements; career counselors will help you practice your interview skills so you feel confident and are well-prepared.

What type of events do you hold?

We have a lot of employer-sponsored events, which means these are employers who come to campus to meet with Swatties. There are also many workshops that prepare you to go talk to those employers. In addition to recruiting events, we bring many alumni back to campus to educate students about career options and network with you.

Handshake houses all of our events and links to online resources.

What is networking (and do I really need to do it)?

YES! Networking has a negative connotation for some, but it shouldn't be confused with nepotism. Chances are, you've used networking in the past to help you get to where you are today. Simply put, access the relationships and communities around you to connect you with other like-minded individuals. It may seem daunting, but people want to network with you! For many Swatties, that means using the Swarthmore student and alumni networks. Connecting with other Swatties through various mediums makes it easy to reach out to others. Learn more about specific networking resources. 

What is the Extern Program? What is an internship? What is the difference?

Internships typically last 10-12 weeks, often during the summer. Swarthmore has a number of funding resources if you find a great internship that happens to be unpaid. 

The formal Extern Program is a week-long job shadowing experience during the last week of winter break with an alumnus/a or a friend of the College. These opportunities are curated through Career Services.

However, we encourage students to seek or create their own externships outside the formal program to delve deeper into the career exploration process. One externship may be life-changing, but chances are, you won't find your dream career through one one-week curated experience. 

Swarthmore College has a number of funding resources for unpaid internships. Career Services' has two internship programs we provide funding for:

  • SFEP (Swarthmore Future Entrepreneur Program): Internships at local start up companies through a partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Students can apply to posted internships and interview with participating start-up companies. If selected, students will gain experience working for a start up while gaining insight into the entrepreneurial world. 
  • SEF (Summer Experiential Fellowship Grants): If you had a great time with your mentor during our extern program, why not ask them if you can come back this summer? If your mentor cannot pay you, you can apply for this grant.

Career Services also has a list of alumni-sponsored summer housing for no or low cost. Please visit the Career Services Office to find out more information. The list is refreshed every year right after Spring Break.

What are some on-campus FLI resources?

Use the alumni directory to locate alumni mentors (a career counselor can help you with this process) and apply for the Rubin Scholars program, a program whose fundamental objective is to advance the academic, inter-personal, social, and professional success of Swarthmore College students who are underrepresented or first generation students.

The FLI office also has a comprehensive list of on-campus resources and programs dedicated to FLI students.

Here are some highlighted resources: 

FirstGEN Fellows: First Generation Social Justice Leaders

First Generation Social Justice Leaders FirstGEN Fellows is a ten-week summer program in the D.C. area for undergraduate students who are the first in their immediate families to attend an institution of higher education, and who are passionate about pursuing careers in social justice.

I'm First!:

I’m First! was created by nonprofit Center for Student Opportunity in 2013 to provide students who lack a family history of higher education with inspiration, information, and support on the road to and through college and is now an initiative of Strive for College—a national nonprofit that also runs a national online mentoring program for college-bound students.  

Here is a great article from I'm First about transitioning from college to the workforce as a first gen student.

1vyG:

1vyG is the largest conference for first-generation, low-income students in the world. Historically, the conference has served as a space for first-generation, low-income students to connect and empower one another.

A list of postgraduate resources for minority students hit the mark: A planetary-science PhD student created a much-needed collection of resources for POCs in STEAM and began tweeting about it.

Career Tips for First-Generation Grad Students: Written by a PhD student, the author shares concrete advice on how first-gen graduate students can prepare for their future careers based on her experiences. She explains why each action is important and can empower students who may not have career support from their families to feel confident in forging their own paths. 

GRE Fee Reduction Program: ETS provides the GRE® Fee Reduction Program for individuals who can demonstrate financial need, for those who are unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation, and for national programs that work with underrepresented groups.