Undocumented students offer a variety of special skills that make them competitive participants in the workforce. Though employment opportunities for undocumented students may be limited, their strengths help them distinguish themselves in the professional areas of entrepreneurship, freelance, or independent contracting, among others. As we reflect on the competencies necessary for all sectors of the workforce, here is how undocumented students successfully contribute to their professional acumen:
Global Perspective – undocumented students may come from a foreign country or have families that migrated to the United States. These experiences can sharpen the awareness of cultural differences and nuances that contribute to how well students can work with others and use individual strengths to build a productive professional environment or a finished product. From operating one’s own business to producing commissioned work, it is essential to maintain intercultural fluency to better understand the needs of others and to successfully realize the expected outcomes.
Problem-solving – as undocumented students have to adapt to circumstances that many other students may not experience, they are constantly challenged to find creative solutions. This ability to think outside the box can be a substantial benefit in any field as working professionals have to find innovative approaches for each new concept. Original ideas often find success, and the ability to put knowledge into a finished product or a final result can make a big difference in terms of someone’s ability to be recognized and respected in their field.
Communication – verbal and written communication skills have to be impeccable as many professions available to undocumented students involve working with others, whether it’s customers or clients, team members, co-workers, or business partners. It’s essential to maintain open communication channels for everyone to be on the same page and work towards accomplishing the same goal. As the world transitions many workspaces into a remote environment, clear communication becomes even more imperative. With new technologies providing access to better and faster mediums, innovators have to master these new tools to maintain an effective and rewarding relationship with existing connections and build new connections.
Leadership – leadership is more in hand with advocacy, but undocumented students have to really take the lead to advocate for themselves and for the opportunities that become accessible to them as a result of their efforts. Exhibiting leadership qualities not only builds character but is a professional asset in the sense of someone being able to organize and implement a plan of action that yields noticeable results. Being a leader means taking all ideas into account and taking the time to anticipate and avert issues or questions that may arise. These abilities represent a trustworthy and dependable person, making others more likely to want to establish a professional relationship.
Career Management – being responsible for professional growth, and knowing the steps to take to find success can make a big difference with limited career options. As undocumented students continue to navigate the challenges with securing employment in the United States, knowing all the options available, how to maximize their potential, and what it takes to embody that role requires a lot of planning, researching, and networking. Setting specific career goals and having realistic expectations of meeting those goals are vital when trying to secure and sustain a chosen employment opportunity.
These are just a few of the many skills that undocumented students exhibit professionally. Participating in skill-building activities that refine these competencies could be beneficial to remain up-to-date in best practices in any field of work. If you would like some help brainstorming specific skills that you could use to market yourself and your work, feel free to schedule an appointment with a Career Coach at the UConn Center for Career Development to continue expanding your professional foundation.