Engage with first-generation college students early. Here’s why.
An interview with David Montenegro, Asset Management Summer Analyst at AvalonBay Communities
Most campus recruiting professionals know about the challenges faced by first-generation college students. Less spoken of is how their self-direction translates to excellence in the organizations that hire them - and how early talent recruiters can appeal to that ambition.
David Montenegro, first-generation Sophomore at Babson College, already has a resume that rivals the most ambitious of seniors.
He’s been interning across the financial services industry since high school and has co-founded a non-for-profit that provides Rhode Island public school students with career opportunities - all while participating in his college’s Honors Program.
So Forage had a chat with him about what’s driving him in his career.
What excites you about the career that you aspire to?
David has been driven towards the financial services industry since he was young for the ability to make a big picture impact on firms and their customers, and a smaller picture impact on his community.
“I go back to my high school and I tell the underclassmen about what I’m doing… right now, there isn’t anyone - any role model - with my background… It’s a great motivator for me, in selecting this career, the fact that I am setting an example.”
How would you describe your career journey to date?
Starting out in the public sector working with low income residents for his city’s housing authority, David enjoyed interacting with residents and working across admin, accounting, and finance. It also led him to hone in on finance between his freshman and sophomore year.
“I had only taken Principles of Finance, you know - time value of money, those sort of things, that are useful to understand, but not yet advanced.”
“I had kind of heard of investment banking, maybe seen a few videos here and there, but Forage showed me a good glance at what the work really entailed - the powerpoint presentations, and the financial analysis… I was able to comprehend what investment banking was.”
He applied where his ambition took him:
“I was applying for places that were a long shot… they were only recruiting juniors at the time, and I was a sophomore, and I - for some reason - thought that maybe, since I had a great resume, a great story, they would let a sophomore into their analyst class; but I know it doesn’t work that way.“
Between competing offers for summer internship season…
David picked AvalonBay Communities. Here’s why:
“AvalonBay; the people were really nice. I had some competing offers, but what really made me choose AvalonBay… The other firms were close to my home area… but I realized that with the pay… I would turn out better financially if I went to Washington DC than if I would have stayed in the Boston area.”
Source students where they are
David initially learned what work in finance looked like by completing Forage virtual job simulations, and credits specialized training and development programs for setting him up to perform in industry.
“The things that I learned to perform in my job, I learned through SEO and MLT; they have their own training programs for diverse students… in one week, I was able to learn a lot.”
Ask yourself: does your organization pay attention to these programs to source exceptional talent?
Too often, internships advantage only the students who can afford to work for cheap or free, and thus act as an unseen ‘price of entry’ to the corporate world. 40% in the US are unpaid, and the proportion that are paid disproportionately do not go to marginalized students.
- First-gen students were 22% more likely than their peers to rate compensation as a top factor in their decision to accept an internship.
Ask yourself: is there an unseen ‘price of entry’ for your organization’s internship program?
Reward tenacity, generate goodwill
Those “long shot” applications David made to companies that were only recruiting juniors? While not abiding by traditional recruiting timelines, they’re clear markers of ambition, potential, and authentic intent.
Ask yourself: does your company have a system that takes note of these signals?
Virtual job simulations enhance your early talent strategy, leading valuable candidates like David to your organization. To learn more, talk to one of our talent strategists.