Career Resources for Undocumented Students
Undocumented students possess unique strengths and face unique challenges in their career journeys. As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown values the dignity of all members of the community, regardless of immigration status. The career center staff, along with the Georgetown community, are here to offer support to undocumented students navigating the career search.
Meet with a Staff Member
Call or stop by the career center’s front desk to schedule an appointment with one of our staff members who can work with you to explore career opportunities.
- Career counseling is a collaborative and confidential space where you can work with a counselor to clarify goals while exploring your values, interests, skills, and personality. A counselor can support you through the decision-making process as you apply to internships, consider graduate school, and develop a plan for moving forward.
- Industry advising appointments help you explore internship and job opportunities in a variety of fields including: health and sciences, law, government, non-profit, business, education, technology, and creative areas such as marketing, journalism, media and entertainment. Our advisors can work with you to identify opportunities and employers for whom U.S. citizenship or permanent residency may not be a requirement.
- For more on how to get help from your school, check out Income and Career Options for Undocumented Students: How Colleges can Help (video) from TheDream.us
How to Get Experience
The best way to prepare for life after graduation is to find experiences that will allow you to develop skills you can apply in the workplace. Whether it is a paid or unpaid position, it is important to choose experiences that help you explore your interests and fit with your career goals.
Skill-building experiences may include, but are not limited to, the following activities:
- Community organizing
- Academic projects
- Shadowing professionals
- Part-time positions
- Leadership roles in student groups
- Study abroad (with DACA)
Come to one of our career workshops, sign up for a same-day appointment, or meet with a staff member to learn how to communicate the value of your experiences through your application materials (resume, cover letter, writing sample, or personal statement), in an interview, or as you network.
There are many online resources for finding jobs and internships. Check out our Job & Internships page to access the resources available to all Georgetown students. When you search for opportunities, keep in mind your ability to accept a paid or unpaid position.
It can be helpful to connect with other students and alumni—with or without Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status—who have been through the hiring process and found opportunities. You can learn strategies from their experiences that may help in your own process. There are student-led initiatives at Georgetown that can help you connect with other undocumented students, as well as national groups such as the UndocuUndergrads National Network, UndocuBlack Network, United we Dream, and NAKASEC.
Finding Support for Unpaid Internships
As an undocumented student, you may also be managing financial stressors that make it difficult to pursue unpaid internships. There are some resources available at Georgetown and externally that may help you manage financial constraints.
Review our spreadsheet of departments and organizations that offer stipends, scholarships, and additional resources for students with unpaid internships. Pay close attention to application requirements and deadlines, and reach out to the departments for more information.
Disclosing Your Status to Employers
It can be confusing and stressful to decide when and with whom to share your status. Throughout the job search and hiring process it is important to provide information that is true and authentic, however, you ultimately get to decide whether or not to share your status. Come in to talk with a staff member about strategies for disclosing your status at different points in the process.
You may decide to share your status with an organization early in the hiring process or in an interview if you feel comfortable doing so, and to start a discussion about how to move forward in the process. It is important to consider who you would want to disclose to (sharing with a recruiter vs. a supervisor) and in what manner (disclosing in a personal statement for grad school vs. in an interview). If you are unsure about whether and how to disclose your status, meet with one of the career center’s career counselors or another member of the Undocumented Students Working Group. These are people who can support you during these uncomfortable situations.
Filling Out Applications
On job applications there is usually a question that says: “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?”
- If you have DACA you can answer “yes” to the question and continue through the hiring process without having to disclose more detailed information about your background. See the section below for more information on DACA.
- If you do not have DACA or another work authorization status, there are other options you may consider for gaining experience and finding employment. See the section below for alternative employment options.
DACA & Alternative Employment Options
Deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for individuals who came to the U.S. as children and who meet certain guidelines.
- To learn more about DACA eligibility and the application process, visit the Department of Homeland Security website.
- This employer guide on DACA has useful information on how to complete the required I-9 Form for Employment Eligibility. All employees must submit an acceptable document that establishes identity and employment authorization. DACA is item 4 on List A.
Alternative Employment Options
If you do not have DACA, or are wondering what your options are while we wait for the Supreme Court decision on DACA, you may consider other avenues for getting professional experience, such as:
- If you receive an internship offer, you may ask the employer not to be paid and pursue other means of financial support such as those mentioned above.
- You may discuss with an employer the option of working as an independent contractor. Independent contractors often do the same type of work, but instead of working for one employer, might work for multiple clients. Examples of independent contractor jobs include tutor or child care provider.
- An independent contractor can use an Independent Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which can be obtained regardless of immigration status. Read Life after College: A Guide for Undocumented Students by Immigrants Rising for more information (pages 29-35).
- If you are interested in starting your own business, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) may be an option to consider. An LLC is composed of an individual or a group of people who are both workers and owners of a business. Read Life after College: A Guide for Undocumented Students by Immigrants Rising for more information (pages 35-37).
If you want to continue your education after earning a bachelor’s degree, graduate school may be your next step. If you are considering whether to apply to graduate school, sign up for a career counseling appointment to talk with a counselor about the decision and to get help finding programs.
Financing Graduate School
Many graduate schools offer funding to help with the cost of graduate school. Some financial assistance comes in the form of research or teaching assistantships. Some programs also offer scholarships for incoming students. This blog from My (Un)Documented Life has tips on applying to graduate school as an undocumented student. Also check out the following resources for graduate scholarships:
- Harvard’s Act on a Dream searchable scholarship database.
- My (Un)Documented Life’s list of scholarships open to undocumented students
- Paul and Daisy Soros Graduate Fellowship 2021
The DREAM Bar Association (DBA) is a nonprofit legal organization led by undocumented law students and practitioners that provides a network for undocumented immigrants who are interested in pursuing a career in law.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) also offers a fee waiver for the LSAT for candidates who are unable to pay for the test. If you have DACA or have applied for DACA you can apply for the fee waiver.
Pre-Health Dreamers (PHD) is a national network that provides support to undocumented students who are pursuing careers in health and science. You’ll find much more, including a list of internships available to undocumented students, on the PHD website.
The Latino Medical Student Association has a scholarship for pre-medical students interested in advancing healthcare and education for Latino and underserved communities. Students are eligible to apply regardless of immigration status.
Georgetown University’s Undocumented Students page connects all the various forms of support available to students throughout the community, including: admissions, financial aid, legal aid, health insurance, and academic advising.
Immigrants Rising – Immigrants Rising provides robust resources for undocumented youth and educators in order to empower students to reach their goals. In addition to their Life After College Guide (PDF), they have a number of educational materials for various audiences. For instance, check out their Life Beyond DACA video.
My (Un) Documented Life – This website provides up-to-date information, resources, and a community for undocumented immigrants, including scholarship opportunities, strategies for navigating the educational system, and information on how to apply for DACA.
Harvard Act on a Dream – Harvard College Act on a Dream is a student-led, student-run organization at Harvard College dedicated to eradicating the barriers that immigrant students face in realizing their full potential. The website includes student stories, a scholarship database, and additional resources for undocumented students and others looking to learn more.