NYU Wasserman’s First Class program is a professional development and mentorship program for first-generation students. Helping students make meaningful professional connections as they explore their field of interest is the program’s goal. So the program pairs admitted students with mentors based on their interests and hosts monthly workshops. These workshops feature guest speakers from different industries who discuss a range of topics. For example, how to build your professional network and how to prepare for a job interview.
Aaron Souferi is a first-year student who participated in the First Class program this year. Aaron shares his experience with us below.
When did you participate in the First Class program?
I participated in the fall semester of the 2021–2022 academic year.
How did you hear about the program?
I heard about the First Class program from my older peers who are also first-generation students. They sent me one of the program’s emails. And I subscribed and started to receive all of their emails about their initiatives. From then on, I started following their email chains for any news that would be of interest.
How would you describe your experience in the First Class program?
My overall experience in the program has been great! For example, the Zoom meetings with special guests from specific fields provided me with great insight into how being a first-generation student can be an advantage. Additionally, my mentor provided me with great insight into the work world. And she is helping me find my true passion for society.
What were your biggest takeaways from the experience?
That it’s OK to receive guidance in life. People can help you find the right path because they have experiences that you do not have, which will shape your perspective on life in a more positive way. In other words, it is OK to ask for help.
What is your favorite aspect of the program?
The Zoom meetings with the special guest speakers are my favorite aspect of First Class. They made me feel the same as any other person. They provided insights on workplace attire, what it means to be a first-generation student, and what businesses look for in potential employees. The information they provided was very relevant and definitely the best part of this program.
What impact did the program have on you? How did it influence your growth as a person?
The program has impacted me in many ways. It provided me with many practical people to connect with inside and outside of NYU. It also helped me realize that I am part of a larger community than I thought. First Class influenced my growth—I now feel comfortable being called a first-generation student.
What advice do you have for high school students who might be thinking about applying?
You are not alone. New York City is one of the biggest cities. And it’s easy to feel lost and not feel like you are part of a community. However, there are so many available mentorships, initiatives, and groups that make the city feel smaller and provide comfort to one’s life.
Aaron is one of many first-generation students at NYU who has seen major growth from participating in the First Class program. Similarly, other students have commented that it’s helped them feel empowered and confident. That’s because students leave the program with tangible skills and a better understanding of the professional world. What’s more, having access to trusted mentors and experienced career coaches in their field is invaluable.
The First Class program at NYU is one of the many amazing initiatives offered at the Wasserman Center for Career Development. You can learn more about their office and other initiatives on their website.
The Wasserman Center's First-Generation Career Development
First Class is a professional development and mentorship program open to all first generation undergraduates at NYU. As part of the program, you’ll be matched with a mentor who is a working professional in the career field you’re interested in pursuing. Mentors offer insight, experience, and advice on how you can begin preparing for your future professional life from the moment you step on campus.
As part of First Class, you’ll also work with a Wasserman career coach to understand the key elements of successful career planning. Your coach will also help you network and familiarize yourself with Wasserman’s resources as you begin your own internship and job searches.