Cal State East Bay Makes Career Mentorship Accessible to 150+ Students

Discover how California State University, East Bay partnered with Firstly to make career mentorship accessible to over 150 students. Learn about the tailored, flexible program that addresses unique challenges and fosters collaboration between students and alumni. Explore the success stories and find out how you can join the movement towards transformative mentorship.
August 23, 2022


California State University, East Bay (CSUEB), one of the most diverse colleges in the US and a Hispanic-Serving Institution (”HSI”), recognized a unique opportunity during the pandemic. With 37% Hispanic student enrollment, CSUEB's Alumni Association sought to enhance student-to-alumni mentorship for its diverse community. By partnering with Firstly, East Bay provided career mentorship to over 150 college students without needing additional support staff.

The Story of Cal State East Bay

CSUEB is the San Francisco East Bay Area's high-access public university of choice. With campuses in Hayward, Concord, a professional development center in Oakland, and an innovative online campus, CSUEB serves over 15,000 students. They offer a nationally recognized freshman year experience, award-winning curriculum, personalized instruction, and expert faculty.

The Opportunity to Foster Student-to-Alumni Mentorship

Despite boasting a strong alumni community of 100,000+ graduates, CSUEB lacked a formal mentoring program. They saw an opportunity to support current students in their college-to-career journeys by complementing academic learning with career mentorship from engaged alumni, fostering a culture of collaboration across graduation classes.

Why Cal State East Bay Chose Firstly

CSUEB's Alumni Association needed a high-impact yet low-lift mentorship solution. Other platforms like PeopleGrove and Graduway were too time-consuming. Firstly's full lifecycle support for mentorship programs, including curriculum design, recruitment, matching, and reporting, made them the ideal partner. They hosted live orientations, speaker panels, and facilitated mentorship relationships on behalf of CSUEB. The Alumni Mentorship Program complements CSU East Bay's existing career readiness initiatives like CareerBOOST, adding a layer of individualized support on a one-on-one basis.

Tailored Mentorship Program for CSUEB’s Student Body

Understanding CSUEB's unique student population, Firstly conducted qualitative interviews and data analysis. They found:

  • 64% of students were first-generation college attendees, facing psychosocial barriers like impostor syndrome. The research findings noted that many students excluded themselves from accessing career services on campus because they did not feel prepared.
  • A majority worked 20+ hours a week while studying. We found that these students needed virtual and self-paced modalities to accommodate their busy work schedules.

Firstly crafted a flexible, confidence-building mentorship program with peer cohorts and identity-based professional mentor matches. Program deliverables included resume drafts, interview answers, and recorded elevator pitches. Self-paced modules allowed students to create initial drafts, followed by alumni mentor guidance.

The Results: A Success Story

Photo of student David Cox sitting at a desk
David Cox, Class of 2022

The pilot program achieved a 63% completion rate, leading to expansion in Spring and Summer 2022. David Cox, a mentee, secured an internship with Fremont Bank, stating, “Firstly helped me find a group of peers... I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon Firstly because I don’t think I would have put myself out there if it weren’t for the program.”

‍Since partnering with Firstly, CSUEB has served 150+ students in career development without additional staff. The program continues to grow, with the next Fall 2022 cohort on the horizon.

Join the Movement: A Call-to-Action

If you're interested in launching similar mentorship programs at your college or university, let's chat about how Firstly can help. Together, we can make mentorship accessible, meaningful, and transformative.

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Cal State East Bay Makes Career Mentorship Accessible to 150+ Students

August 23, 2022