[VIDEO] Supporting First Gens Entering the Workforce

First to Finish College
May 8, 2014

Our First to Finish College project recently hosted a Google Hangout with two inspiring leaders in the movement to support first-generation college student success:

Yolanda Norman M.S., M.Ed.Yolanda Norman is the Manager of College Readiness at Houston Independent School District in Texas. A first gen herself, Yolanda is a passionate advocate and the force behind the active Twitter handle @firstgencollege and firstgencollege.tumblr.com.

Benjamin L. CastlemanBen Castleman, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Virginia, is a well-recognized researcher in the field of postsecondary access and success and is collaborating on a pilot program to use text messaging to connect families and students with quality, personalized information on key deadlines and supports.

Our discussion covered a lot of ground; so look for series of clips over the coming weeks.  

Here, Ben and Yolanda share their thoughts on transitioning from college to the workforce as part of our series, Learning to Earn: First Gens Moving from College to Careers.

For Adult Allies

We asked Ben and Yolanda to share their thoughts on what staff and institutions should keep in mind when it comes to supporting first gens entering the workforce.


Ben talks about the need for high-quality information about jobs to help overcome the barriers making the transition more difficult.






And he points out that policies to help first gens with this next phase are lagging behind those focused primarily on getting them into college.   





Yolanda notes that advisers and other staff need to be on the look out for the potentially derailing effects of "first gen guilt."



Passion v. Practicality

What do first gens need to consider when it comes to choosing a career path? And is something is lost when students, policymakers and institutions focus solely on workforce success?



Yolanda says it's important to keep the reasons for going to college in the first place in mind, while Ben talks about the pull of family expectations.






Practical Tips for First Gens Making the Transition



Finally, Yolanda offers some practical advice about three things all students should keep in mind.




Watch the full segment on supporting the transition from college to careers (15:00)





This article is part of the First to Finish College project, produced jointly by Demos and SparkAction.