How Capital One empowers first-generation students
Capital One is helping first-generation college students prepare for life in higher education through “First-Gen Focus.” The yearlong program helps first and second-year students achieve financial literacy, career readiness and personal wellness.
First-Gen Focus launched in 2020 as part of Capital One’s ongoing work to create opportunities for students. According to a Capital One survey in 2020, 66 percent of students feel unprepared to be financially independent from their families. Also, 74 percent of first-gen students surveyed wished their school or financial institution would connect them with people like them who are struggling with college and career-related questions.
“First-gen college students often face different hurdles,” said Bre, senior diversity and inclusion campus program manager. “For those who had at least one parent attend college, they have a built-in support system for things like registering for classes and filling out financial aid forms. We’re here with unwavering support to help first-gen students connect those dots.”
Well-rounded support for first-generation students
First-Gen Focus is available in the fall and spring for eight-week sessions with cohorts of about 80 students. The only requirement is to be a first-gen student enrolled in a four-year college or university.
The program hones in on three learning areas:
- Mindfulness: Students have a safe space to discuss their identity, how to overcome imposter syndrome and learn about emotional resilience.
- Professional Development: Participants get resume and LinkedIn best practices, work on their elevator speech and discover various career paths within Capital One.
- Financial literacy: Students learn about understanding and managing their credit, auto finance and budgeting.
Alums of First-Gen Focus have gone on to complete Capital One internships and “Mini-Mesters,” immersive programs that provide career training for students.
“Our program is designed to be about more than just adjusting to college,” Bre said. “We’re providing the tools to give students long-lasting careers.”
Ongoing mentorship for students
Once students complete First-Gen Focus, they can participate in a post-mentorship opportunity where they’re paired with a Capital One associate based on their career interests.
Leon, a principal underwriter for Community Finance who was a first-gen student at Howard University, chose to be a mentor for the program to provide the same support he received from his mentors while in school.
“There’s so much learning by trial and error when you’re a first-generation student,” Leon said. “You just want to make sure they have someone to lean on.”
Leon helped his five mentees with internship and scholarship applications, time management tips, finding extracurricular activities, networking and professionalism.
“I love speaking life into people,” Leon said. “My role as a mentor is to show them they can achieve anything.”
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