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Helping First-Year Students Make a Smooth Transition

| Dec 10, 2021 |

As a real estate associate at Goldman Sachs, Walter Burnett, BS ’18, is involved in the recruiting process at the Fortune 500 firm and sees firsthand how early the hiring process begins—and how competitive it can be. Some job candidates have stacked résumés even before their sophomore year of college begins.

Tenzin Palkyi, FCRH ’22; Leslie Abreu, FCRH ’22; and Danna Rojas, FCRH ’24, distributed information on the First Generation College Students Network outside of Hughes Hall on Nov. 8, 2021.

Burnett shared his perspectives on entering today’s job market with 18 students in a workshop hosted by the Gabelli School’s First-Year Diversity Scholars Program. Now in its second year, the program features workshops, networking events, and pathways toward internship opportunities for high-achieving students who self identify as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Indigenous People (American Indian and Native Hawaiian).

“I appreciate Fordham for creating and fostering programs that allow diverse students to partake in those experiences,” Burnett said. “I think the program is fantastic. It gives them the opportunity to interact with professionals, hone their skills, and find mentors, and challenges them to step out of their comfort zone at an early age.”

Gabelli School Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Clarence E. Ball III pointed out that the program provides resources and opportunities to which students might not otherwise have access, such as leadership skills, networking, and direct contact with Fortune 500 companies.

“The real thrust of this program is to build leadership skills, and to expose diverse students to real business cases at some of the world’s leading finance, accounting, and marketing firms,” he said.

In a survey, first-year participants reported that they “feel more equipped academically” and notice an improvement in their “etiquette of communicating with business professionals.” As sophomores, diversity scholars can remain involved as mentors for incoming students and by applying for posts on the Fordham DEI Board.

As the number of diversity and first-generation students grows at the Gabelli School, so does the need for community building. To ease the transition for first-year, first-generation students, the Gabelli School also recently launched the First Generation College Students Network.

“It’s providing space and connectivity for these students,” said Marisa Villani, senior assistant dean for undergraduate studies and network administrator. “This also has the potential to give students access to mentors and support within the faculty and administration who might be able to help students cultivate talents, interests, and passions they may not have otherwise discovered.”

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