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Launched in the summer of 2023, Explore First: Careers, Cultures and Connections is an education abroad program designed and implemented intentionally to equip and empower First-Generation students at the University of Kentucky. It is aimed at significantly impacting the academic success (retention, graduation, and beyond) of UK’s First-Generation students. 27% of undergraduate students at UK are First-Generation or "First-Gen" students, which the University of Kentucky defines as students who neither parent has earned a four-year degree.

For the first phase, in summer 2023, selected First-Gen students in four cohorts of 15 participated in a 3-week education abroad program while earning 3 credit hours of UK coursework in London, UK and Dublin, Ireland.

The curricular components and learning outcomes are based on National Associate of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Career Readiness Competencies, and the overall program has been formulated and managed by staff experts in UK’s Education Abroad & Exchanges (EA) in collaboration with colleagues in Student Success, including the Stuckert Career Center and the office of First-Generation Student Services.

The program introduces career readiness within a global context to put students and their educational experience at the forefront. Students develop transferable skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, independence, and self-efficacy. They will also enhance their cross-cultural competence, personal growth, and social responsibility and be exposed to work culture and career settings in these locations.

Working with key corporate partners, the program connects students with organizations that have a global presence and employ UK graduates. The type of activities and opportunities that we are seeking from employer partners will vary based on availability and capacity, but sample activities include:

  • company site visits
  • resume reviews
  • panel discussions (themes could include: working on multicultural teams; market trends; key skills for job seekers; career paths; professional etiquette etc.)
  • speed networking with students and employees
  • informational interviews

Our employer partners for Summer 2023 included:

  • Abbey Capital
  • Accenture
  • Alltech
  • Compass Group
  • Diageo
  • Gray Construction
  • Greystar
  • Handshake UK
  • Hubspot
  • LinkedIn
  • Neuberger Berman
  • and more...

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Are you an employer or organization interested in partnering with Explore First?

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Support Explore First

Explore First makes education abroad opportunities accessible to more UK students. Your support helps make these experiences possible.

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