On December 22, many UT students will officially graduate. Some will struggle to find positions that suit their career interests. Others will give themselves deadlines to find work: before the end of the year, the end of March, the end of the summer, or by next Christmas.
And some will be given a deadline by the U.S. government — with much more at stake.
For non-citizen students, securing a job after graduation is much more than a fulfillment of dreams or an opportunity to join the ranks of the middle class. Many of these students must both secure a position and find an employer that will petition for their political status.
While UT offers extensive career services, these services are rarely tailored to serve the needs of students whose future in the U.S.will be determined by their future employers. UT shouldn’t just teach undocumented students how to get a job — it should teach them how to get a job that will petition for them.
“When I went to career fair this fall semester, it was really hard to find a job since most companies have restrictions on international students,” said chemical engineering senior Danny Kim. Kim suggested that UT should provide international students with information about which companies hire non-citizens.
Texas has over 115,000 students who have applied for DACA. UT has over 5,000 international students, including DACA recipients. While DACA recipients might be able to secure their right to work while attending school, they’ll have to re-secure lawful status after graduation if they hope to continue working and living in the United States. Similarly, UT students who are attending school with a student visa must also secure lawful status after graduation.
Unfortunately, many career planning services on campus fail to account for the limitations placed on non-citizen students. Luis Barrientos, a former UT student, recalled the difficulty of applying to medical schools as an undocumented student.
“I really had to do a lot of my own research,” Barrientos said. “Whenever I did have questions, they weren’t able to answer them.”
While applying to graduate school is a difficult process for most applicants, Barrientos had the added stress of finding a school that accepted DACA recipients. In Texas, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was the only school that allowed him to apply.
According to Barrientos, career planning offices on campus aren’t always able to provide up-to-date information for non-citizen students, which can be a major impediment to their career and future in the United States.
Lesly Reza Olguin, a bilingual education major wrote in an email, “There is always that underlying thought of whether or not your employer will question the validity of your work permit or if seeing that the permits are only good for two years will make them think of that as a setback.”
UT career planning services should be better equipped to work with non-citizen students in order to ensure that they are connected with the right employers and graduate schools post-graduation. Doing this will secure non-citizen students’ futures in the United States.
If we hope to be a campus that serves Texas students and values diverse perspectives, we must have greater support for non-citizen students.
López is a rhetoric and writing junior from McAllen.