DePaul University Career Center's Blog

DePaul Diaries: Succeeding as a First Generation Student

By: Kevin Lam, University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

Will Ngo’s parents came to North America with no knowledge of the English language, no house, and very little money. Inspired by his parents’ determination, Will, a senior majoring in graphic design, is constantly searching for opportunities to make the most of his education and succeed in his chosen career path.

Like many parents, Will’s had certain career expectations for him. They wanted Will to pursue a job in a high-demand industry and become a doctor or an engineer. However, once Will went on a college visit and saw the variety of programs offered he realized he wanted to go into a more creative field. Knowing that his chosen path is different than what his parents originally envisioned has motivated Will to try hard and to seek opportunities to show his parents – and himself – that by majoring in graphic design he could define success on his own terms.

One way Will sought to establish himself as a professional was by pursuing an internship. Will landed an unpaid position as a Creative Design Intern at the Digital Factory. He also applied for and received a scholarship from the Internship Plu$ Program. The Internship Plu$ Program provides up to $1,200 in financial aid to undergraduate students working in an unpaid internship, so that they can focus on learning all that they can from their experience. Internship Plu$ gave Will the opportunity to work in his field of interest without worrying about finances.

In addition to leveraging the Internship Plu$ Program, Will enrolled in a course offered by the Career Center’s University Internship Program (UIP) to learn more about himself as a young professional and to fulfill his Experiential Learning requirement. The course, UIP 252: Creativity as a Change Agent in the Workplace, allowed Will to study creativity and creative approaches to collaboration, which paired well with his internship.

Will worked tirelessly to realize a dream and utilized important university-provided resources along the way – resources that he hopes other students will use as well. His advice to future interns is to be open-minded when searching for internships. He advises students to pursue an internship because they want it and believe that it will help them as much as they can help the company they’re working for.

Whether you’re worried about having to crunch numbers through an unpaid internship or unsure about how certain skills will translate over, the Career Center has resources readily available to help you!

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