Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

First-Generation Students

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has adopted the formal definition of a first-generation college student as a student in which neither parent nor legal guardian has completed a four-year college degree or higher.

As a first-generation college student, you have important strengths that you bring to your college experience, your education, and your career development (Wiljanen, 2003). 

  • A willingness and courage to “be first” and to take risks in pursuing education and a career
  • A genuine, intrinsic desire to have a better life through higher education
  • The power to overcome the odds
  • Wanting to bring pride to family, school, community, and/or yourself with academic and career achievements

CCDAE Commitment

  • As staff and aspiring allies, we are committed to supporting first-generation students in their career exploration, readiness, and professional development process. Navigating college and career resources can seem intimidating especially if it is new for you or your family. This page is filled with resources, articles, and tips to help you navigate the career process. Here’s how we can support your time on Rocky Top!

Your Career Coach 

All of our coaches are available to schedule a coaching session with; Heather is the career coach for inclusion initiatives and exclusively serves students from historically underrepresented identities.



Support on Campus 

  • Campus Labs – Student Organization Finder
    • Finding student organizations related to inclusion and diversity
  • Office of First-Generation Initiatives
  • We know that balancing your academics, your work, and your personal life is not always easy. We are here to provide you with resources and support that help you create and activate your future. How can you find us?
    • Peer Career Advisor Drop-Ins in the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration on the 2nd floor of the Student Union above the Starbucks 
      • During drop-ins, you can get your resume reviewed, do a practice interview, or get some questions answered, like: 
        • How does my major impact my career? 
        • How do I find a summer job or internship? 
        • How can I gain shadowing experience? 
        • … and more! 
      • No question is too big or too small and we are happy to support you with whatever you need! 
    • You can schedule an appointment with your Career Coach through Handshake 

Networking Resources

  • Handshake
    • Handshake is an online platform that serves as a board for jobs and events specifically for college students, so you will not be competing with others who have years of professional experience. It is an excellent place to begin a job search and we recommend that students start their job search by creating an account and seeing what is available on Handshake. Creating a profile may seem intimidating,  but it will be okay! You can go at your own pace, and the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration is here to give you advice on building a strong profile.
  • LinkedIn
    • LinkedIn is an online platform for networking and job searching. There are ways to filter to find UTK alumni at specific companies or in different industries.