Dear First Gen,
When we were growing up, my brother and I were reminded consistently that we were expected to perform extremely well in class. One of my friends told me a story of her upbringing that may be familiar to you. When she came home from school and showed her parents her good grades, they would ask, "Did another student receive a better grade than you?" If she said yes, the next question would be, "Why are you not at the top of the class?" My friend is brilliant and skillful! But in her parents eyes, being second, third, or fourth in a huge graduating class was just not “good enough.”
Immigrant parents often have very high expectations for their children, and as First Gens, we work overtime to meet or exceed them. But there is more to it than having the desire...there are situations that sometimes derail us. It is commonly unacceptable among foreigners to acknowledge feelings of guilt, insecurity, and doubt; rather it is expected that you will overcome them and never discuss the difficulties you faced. I can attest that there is a positive side to being raised to always find solutions to each "surface" problem, but what about the inner problems?
Tell me: How have you coped with your emotions when feeling depressed or pressured?
Dear First Gen,
Joy Weber (a featured first gen) shared a piece of advice for first gens that want to meet people outside of their network: Consider reaching out to people via LinkedIn, even if you’ve never been introduced to them before. This is a great idea!
You may have met someone at an event that you have finally found the courage to attend, or overheard someone else talking about this individual. In either situation, this person piqued your curiosity and you want to learn more about them, but you do not have a way to contact them. When it comes to individuals you don’t know, reach out to them for an in-person informational meeting. If the person has a busy calendar and you are unable to coordinate a meeting time, then you can opt for a phone conversation. When that’s the case, LinkedIn is a good place to start! A friend called @LinkedIn, "Facebook for Professionals".
Log in to your account (or create an account), and then perform a search of the person’s name to find out if you have mutual contacts. If you don’t, that’s OK—you may still be able to network with that individual. It is scary and you may not know where to begin but let me suggest two approaches.
"Women do not belong there," can you imagine a time when women were denied admission to law school?!
(I recently watched a movie on the Suffrage Movement and was shocked by what they lost to fight for their right to vote - families, children, friendships and employment!)
This featured first gen is a young, outstanding attorney who is rising in her firm. She is the only female member of the Legislative and Government Relations Group in her office and amazes each person she meets.
1. What is your name?
2. What is your current occupation?
Government Relations Attorney
3. What is your education background?
Bachelor of Arts in Art/Psychology from Penn State University and Regents University School of Law. (Any and all passions are welcome in the field of law.)
4. What is your family background?
Mom, Dad, and two younger brothers. I am now married with one son.
5. Do you have any "firsts" recognized by your family?
First to attend and graduate from law school.
6. How were you able to achieve them?
Hard work. Willingness to take risks. Support of my family.
7. What was your biggest obstacle or challenge to become the first in your family?
I remember being bummed that my mom and dad could no longer be the authority on the law school process. I reached out to my extended family and used them as a resource.
8. What advice would you give to a first-generation student who is seeking to become a first-generation professional in the U.S.?
Utilize LinkedIn! Don't hesitate to reach out to people who are where you hope to be. Buy someone a coffee and ask them to tell you how they got to where they are.
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