Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tips for Undocumented Students: Networking for College & Career Success

Over the course of my years working with undocumented students, I have come to realize that students with a strong network of support have been the most likely to get admitted to college, secure the funds they need to pay for college, complete their degrees, go on to attend graduate school, and secure paid employment.  For undocumented students, building a strong network of supportive individuals is key to college and career success.  This blog will provide information and insight about who should be part of your college and career network and how they can help you! 

In reflecting back on how my own personal network was developed, I realize that I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend various colleges and work in various professional environments where I built relationships with individuals who I continue to remain in contact with today. Over the course of my educatioal and professional careers, I have learned about the important role networking plays in one's college and career advancement.  However, the relationships we build with individuals throughout our educational and professional careers should not be built simply for the purpose of "networking."  Ideally, we naturally build relationships with individuals whom we share common work or interests with and maintain these mutually beneficial relationships over time.  The various social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that most of us use already can also be great ways to make new connections and stay connected.

In my experience, many of my friends, colleagues, and mentors have later helped to point me to academic and professional opportunities or introduced me to other people who could help me in various ways.  I have also done the same for some of them.  Offering advice about networking is a bit subjective given that each of us has different experiences, has attended different college/universities, has worked in different places, or made contact with different organizations.  Therefore, one person's network may be made up of completely different individuals than someone else's.  Nonetheless, as an undocumented student, there are key individuals who should be part of your network and who can assist you in various ways as you pursue college and career.  Below is a list of individuals who may already be a part of your personal network and how they may be able to assist you.

  • Fundraising for college
  • College/graduate school applications
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Social/emotional support
  • Resume development
  • Professional opportunities
School Counselors/College Advisors
  • Fundraising for college
  • Scholarships
  • College/graduate school applications
  • Social/emotional support
  • Test prep (such as SAT, GRE,etc.)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume development
College Representatives
Community Members/Organizations (Such as your local DREAM organization)
Family Members

The list above is by no means exhaustive.  That means that you may have relationships with individuals not listed above and/or the relationships you have my play a different role in your college and career advancement.  In some cases the person above may not be able to help you but they may be able to connect you with someone who can.  The intent of the list above is to help you to begin thinking about who you know, who you need to know, and how they can help you. 

I welcome your questions and/or additional insights based on your own networking experiences and how they have helped you!  Be sure to check out my next blog, which will provide advice on how to apply to and successfully move through graduate school.


  1. is it possible to attend graduate school for an undocumented student?

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  5. hola necesito ayuda en cuanto a lo de estudios soy colombiano tengo visa de turista por eso no puedo acceder a los estudios ni a nada de eso podrian ayudarme ?