Giving Compass' Take:

• Basta is a New York-based non-profit helping first-generation graduates get through specific hurdles to find their career paths after college. 

• What are some barriers that first-generation graduates face that other grads might not? 

• Read about what North Dakota is doing for first-generation high school students to help advance their futures. 

Like most students, Luis Espinosa was terrified by the job hunt looming over his senior year of college. But unlike most students, Espinosa was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and he felt the additional pressure of securing a job as quickly as possible to help support his mother and sister in the Dominican Republic.

After attending a career-day event, Espinosa said he “fell in love” with an investment firm for its work culture and mission. He wanted to work there, but he didn’t necessarily know how.

That’s why Espinosa gives credit for landing his job at that company to the career-finding tools he learned at Basta, a nonprofit based in New York that connects college graduates who were the first in their family to attend a university with careers. As these first-generation students often come from low-income or immigrant families, they might have spent most of college working rather than taking unpaid internships, or they might have different expectations of what a résumé should include.

“[What] we don’t codify or make transparent to young people around the job search are not complicated topics, but they are really high-stakes knowledge gaps preventing them from accessing jobs,” said Sheila Sarem, founder of Basta.

After years of working in politics, education reform, and human resources, Sarem launched Basta in 2016 to address the lack of diversity in the workforce.

Sarem’s ability to bring out the best in students so they can sell themselves on a résumé and in an interview is something Espinosa said launched him into his own career. During their time with Sarem and her colleague, Maggie Raible, students go through exercises to identify their strengths, learn how to build networks to find jobs, and connect with professional coaches who devote an hour each week to imparting advice on everything from the résumé to the interview.

Read the full article about mentoring by Kate Stringer at The 74