Embracing My Journey: From First-Generation Student to Early Careers Recruiter

March 27, 2024 | By Rebecca Krick

Career Development
A group of college graduates at graduation.

TAGS: best practices, career development, first generation, member voices, mentoring,

In fifth grade, I visited Philadelphia for the first time with my father on a field trip. We explored Old City, marveled at the Liberty Bell, and toured Independence Hall. It was my first venture beyond rural Pennsylvania, and even at 11 years old, I knew I wanted to be part of a city like Philadelphia. Why? The people, the cultures, the history—it was a whirlwind I longed to join.

Fast forward six years and Temple University granted me early acceptance—I was Philadelphia-bound! As a first-generation student and the eldest sibling, I felt immense pressure to succeed. The path ahead was uncharted, and the weight of my expectations rested heavily on my shoulders. Little did I know, this journey would shape not only my life but also ignite my passion for connecting students with meaningful careers.

The First-Generation Experience

Being a first-generation student was both a privilege and a challenge. My parents, hardworking and resilient, had either not attended college or had tried and stopped—they both worked tirelessly to provide my brother and I with a wonderful childhood. Their dreams were interwoven with mine—a tapestry of hope, sacrifice, and determination. As I navigated the complexities of financing my college degree through part-time jobs, such as serving as a resident assistant, and balancing a term as president of a student professional organization, I realized my journey was about more than earning a degree; it was about breaking barriers and creating a legacy.

As an undergraduate at Temple, I focused on the vibrant world of hospitality management, mastering the art of guest service, event planning, and leadership. Beyond the textbooks and lecture halls, I discovered the power of mentorship. Professors and academic advisors who believed in me guided, challenged, and encouraged me. Their unwavering support fueled my determination to pay it forward: I wouldn’t be who I am today without my Temple community—Residential Life, the Diamond Leadership Program, and the internships I was fortunate to have.

Connecting Passion With Purpose

Fast forward to today—I stand not as a student, but as a recruiter. My role as an early careers recruiter allows me to bridge the gap between academia and industry. I see myself in the eager faces of early career candidates—their aspirations, their fears, their hunger for opportunity. It’s more than just matching résumés to job descriptions; it’s about understanding their stories, their dreams, and their unique strengths.

Behind every acceptance letter is a student who overcame adversity, juggled part-time jobs, and stayed up late perfecting their elevator pitch.

As I analyze cycle times and conversion rates, I recall my late nights in the library, fueled by determination and countless cups of coffee. The numbers become more than data—they represent lives transformed and the futures of our organizations.

However, as I learned as a first-generation student, I know as an early careers recruiter that there are many ways to tell a story, and being a part of NACE allows me to experience new ways of doing things, just as being a college student in Philadelphia allowed me the opportunity to expand beyond my small-town experiences in rural Pennsylvania.

As the co-chair of the STEM Affinity Group, I collaborate with professionals across industries, sharing best practices and shaping the future of early career recruitment. My speaking engagements at NACE events like the Competency Symposium, the annual NACE Conference, and the College Recruiting Forum are not just gatherings; they are platforms for growth, learning, and inspiration within our broader community of recruiters, educators, and career services professionals.

So, here I am, penning my thoughts for NACE’s Member Voices. This article transcends mere words; it’s a testament to resilience, mentorship, and the power of opportunity. It’s about the first-generation student who became an advocate, the recruiter who sees potential beyond résumés, and the unwavering belief that every student deserves a chance to shine.

Now, with my graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a home I share in South Philly with my partner and rescue pup, and my cup overflowing with gratitude, I reflect on my journey—from that exciting first day at Temple University to the halls of Corporate America. My story intertwines with countless others, and together, we create a tapestry of hope, woven with threads of inclusion and purpose.

Whenever you, your students, or members of your community have self-doubt, remind them that even if you may not have accomplished everything you wanted to so far in this life, embrace the journey. It’s the best part, and there are plenty of lessons to learn along the way. 

Headshot of Rebecca Krick Rebecca Krick is a senior recruiter advisor at a global health company specializing in early careers and university recruitment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from Temple University, a Master of Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a SHRM-CP certification. 

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