When I was applying to college, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was an international student who never got to visit a college campus or to ask anyone what the college application questions really meant.

When I finally got to college and met fellow students who were international, minority, first generation or otherwise non traditional, it became clear how much harder our path to enrollment had been than for students who’d had help. 

But the disadvantages to being an outsider didn’t stop at enrollment. When it came time to apply for internships and jobs, I went to the career office and asked them to connect me with relevant alumni who had backgrounds similar to mine. They handed me a ring binder of outdated alumni contact information and wished me good luck.

Today, Linkedin has replaced ring binders, but the problem of applicants, students, and alumni being shut out from opportunities is every bit as real. And the consequences for colleges and universities are increasingly dire as graduates fail to get good jobs and alumni become increasingly unwilling or unable to give back to their alma maters. 

At Firsthand we believe there’s a better path forward. And it starts with creating real human connections. For every successful alum, there was once a student just trying to figure things out. For every successful student there was once a prospective student who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. 

Chances are that your institution has thousands of students and alumni who’d be willing to help somebody who was once in their shoes. 

Firsthand makes it easy to enlist your alumni as mentors and your students as ambassadors. We let you host virtual career fairs, discussion forums, a job board and a resource library and more. You can call it an engagement platform, but really it’s about delivering on the promise of higher education to give everyone a brighter future. We call it the Pay It Forward Platform.