FIrst Gen Covid Market (2)

Located on UCF’s Main Campus, this mannequin represents appropriate Grad Walk attire. Students must abide to COVID-19 rules while in attendance.

Many first-generation students at UCF face occupational challenges ahead of their graduation day due to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the job market.

According to a study released by the National Association of College and Employers, first-generation students who applied for positions within their field will have a success rate of less than 25%, with 43.1% of students receiving an offer.  

Over 13 thousand students at UCF are first-generation. First-generation students are defined as undergraduate students whose parents have not completed a bachelor’s degree.

For senior psychology major Dylan Joya, he said the pandemic interfered with his opportunity to gain work experience at a medical malpractice firm.  

“I was initially supposed to intern for a firm last summer, but because of the pandemic I was not able to go in and take advantage of the opportunity,” Dylan Joya said. “It definitely put a small roadblock in the way.” 

First Gen Covid Job Market (1)

Dylan Joya, senior psychology major, poses with his parents on his high school graduation day. Joya and his older brother became the first members of their family to attend college. “My parents always told me education is something that can’t be taken away from you,” Joya said.


Dylan Joya said the experience he would have received from the internship would have led him to choose a career choice he would be more confident in.  

According to Compare Camp, students who complete an internship before applying for a position within the job market see a 16 percent increase in job offers.  

Shelby Mattle, a first-generation student, said she was notified via email she would no longer be able to take part in her externship, a temporary program that occurs in the workplace from an affiliated institution.  

“I had a job lined up as a certified nursing assistant and because of COVID, it actually cancelled my externship,” said Mattle, sophomore hospitality major. “It took away the chance of me working in a hospital because of the pandemic.” 

Mattle said she had ideally wanted to graduate and receive three bachelor’s degrees in a few years, but the pandemic caused her plans to change. She said COVID-19’s impact on her career timeline was frustrating.

“I was really crushed,” Mattle said. “It pushed back my ship out date and I didn’t get to graduate from my pre-major at Seminole State.”

UCF has developed a first-generation program that offers resources to guide first-generation students. The program seeks to help students throughout their college experience with referrals, workshops and mentorships.

Joya’s mother, Diana Joya, said she expects her son to choose a future that will fulfill him in life but also provide him with the support he needs to live financially. 

“Higher education is important because while it may seem like a lot of work in the moment, you will thank yourself in the future for working as hard as you did to have a fruitful life,” Diana Joya said.  

Dylan Joya said he encourages first-generation students to not give up as they apply for jobs.

“It may seem impossible,” Dylan Joya said. “But there’s a first for everything.”

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