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Career Readiness Conference Recap


On February 1, 2020, UC San Diego’s inaugural career readiness conference for first-generation students was held in the Student Services Center, Multipurpose Room. The development of “First, but not alone: Power in numbers” emerged from the understanding of the unique needs and challenges faced by our first-generation student population in their efforts toward gaining the skills necessary to navigate their careers beyond their time at UC San Diego. The success of the conference was made possible through the collaborative effort between the Student Retention & Success unit, Career Center, and Teaching + Learning Commons, the strong support from UC San Diego alumni, and especially through the passion, excitement, and willingness of our first-generation student population to dedicate their time toward their professional development. 

The conference began that Saturday afternoon with an inspiring keynote speaker and UC San Diego alumnus, Cristina Aguirre, who is the Chief Programs Office at Barrio Logan College Institute. Throughout Cristina’s keynote, she shared personal narratives that showcased her resilience and acknowledged the various challenges faced through her journey as a first-generation college graduate. The keynote set a tone of perseverance that helped carry and shape the impact of the three plenary, scaffolding workshops that students participated in through the duration of the conference. 

The workshops included a design-thinking, five to ten year plan workshop which was hosted by Student Success Coaching, followed by an introduction to experiential learning which was hosted by the Academic Internship Program (AIP) counselors and Engaged Learning Tools (ELT) specialists, and finally an interactive, career readiness workshop which involved rapid resume reviews, experiential learning opportunities, feedback on personal statements/cover letters that were conducted by peer leaders from AIP, the Writing Hub, Career Center peers and advisors, and success peer coaches. As a result of engaging in these workshops, students reported an 41% increase in agreement of feeling prepared to navigate career readiness compared to how they felt at the beginning of the conference and shared that “Networking/connecting to others was actually very informative and helpful in terms of learning how to navigate post-grad.”

 The evening ended with a networking dinner, where UC San Diego first-gen alumni from wide-ranges of career fields and backgrounds came to “break bread”, show support, share their stories, and offer words of advice and encouragement for the student participants. More notably, the conference was successful in strengthening the Triton first-generation community on and off-campus through building bridges of connection between first-generation students and alumni. Alumni and current students shared positive feedback which acknowledged that the conference provided “a space I wish I had had when I was preparing to graduate” and shared that “I really liked the advice and the fact that they let us know it ok to feel a bit lost and confused.” With the success of “First, but not alone: Power in numbers,” the hope is that future iterations of this conference will continue to provide a space of community and career-readiness support for the greater first-generation student population at UC San Diego.

2023 Keynote Speaker: Oscar


Growing up in the Tijuana/San Diego region, Oscar graduated from San Ysidro High School in 2009. As a first-generation college student, he attended UC San Diego, where he earned his B.A. in Human Development in 2014. Upon graduating from UC San Diego, Oscar worked at SDSU as a student programs manager while completing his Masters in Public Administration in 2019. Currently, he is a leader in the talent acquisition space in the corporate sector, his most recent experience includes serving as a recruiter for HubSpot, a fastgrowing software company in Cambridge, MA, and most recently as a recruiting and diversity partnership lead at Microsoft, Inc.His goal is to continue growing in the field of People Operations, with an emphasis on attracting and retaining traditionally underrepresented talent.






Keynote speech


Workshop #1


Lunch at Plaza


Workshop #2


Workshop #3


Closing Remarks


Career Life Design

Career and Life Design is a new theoretical framework that the UC San Diego’s Career Center is championing under the leadership of our Executive Director, Hassan Akmal. Our approach celebrates individual journeys and focuses on the importance of “interviewing” and conquering limiting beliefs in
the design of your career and life. Your journey is a personal journey. It’s a journey of perspective. And most importantly, it’s a journey of purpose.

Leveraging Your First-Gen Strengths

First-generation students are powerful and resilient leaders! Together, we will reflect on your unique skills, experiences, and abilities as a first-gen student and how that can be applied to the career readiness

Resume Review & Workshop

Building a resume can be a lot. Come learn tips and tricks on how to create your best resume and even have your resume looked at by the Career Peers.

Get to Know Your Career Center

Don't know where to start. Come get to know your career center and all the different resources offered to you!

Networking 101

Networking can be scary! Come learn from your fellow peer on how he navigates networking!

Getting Involved

Don't know where to start? Come learn how getting involved on campus can help be a resume builder and even lead you to other leadership opportunities!

Want to Do Research?

UCSD has so many opportunities to get involved in research which is wonderful, but can often feel overwhelming. Where do you start? What does research look like? How do you get in touch with faculty, research groups, labs, and/or teams? How can you get paid to do these opportunities? Join the Triton Transfer Hub's Undergraduate Research Transfer Coordinator to learn how to navigate research and connect with faculty.

Career Launch

Career Launch is a career preparation program that supports students in learning to create professional relationships from scratch. Together, we will discuss how you can begin this networking journey with professionals in your career field.

First-Gen Alumni Panel

Hear from Alumni, life after graduation, and what it means to now be a first-gen professional.

Gallup's Strength Finder

Gallup's Clifton Strengths is an assessment based on decades of research using positive psychology to help people understand their unique strengths and how to use them to be more engaged, happier, and healthier. This workshop will use the results of your assessment to create personalized action

First-Gen Alumni Dinner Participants