Advice on jobs and education from refugee resettlement case manager

Advice on jobs and education from refugee resettlement case manager

As a refugee resettlement case manager, I often find it very difficult to answer a common question from young adults after they arrive in America, “How do I complete my education?”

It’s complicated because it often comes from single adults, or young adults with elderly parents, who have no financial means to support themselves or their family if they enroll in a traditional school fulltime. The young adults I am talking about come filled with dreams and hopes for a brighter future, and they want it to happen NOW!

I don’t blame them, as we all had some sort of high expectations before arriving in America.

I learned over the years to be more tactical in my responses to those young adults, so I don’t lose their trust, and also in an effort to be able to reason with them to improve their resettlement experience.

The first question that I ask the young adults to respond to is, “Who is going to financially provide for you and the rest of the family when you go to school fulltime?” The answer often is, “I don’t know or the government.” And my response to that is, “Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way, and you or someone in the family need to work and pay for the family’s expenses.”

I know that might not be the response that they want to hear, but it’s their reality.

Refugees are resilient and went through many hardships; they survived by being resourceful and their lives are only going to get better if they plan right in this country. So, let’s talk about few things you can do to be able to balance providing for your family and continuing your education:

  • Patience: Being patient is a synonym for wisdom. You are going to meet a lot of people, and people LOVE to give advice, even in matters that they know nothing about. Take your time, listen, ask questions, and pray to God to direct you in the right direction. There are many opportunities in this country, and you will eventually find yours.


  • General Equivalency Diploma (GED): Improving your English is the first and perhaps most important step. Without English, your transition will not be as easy. In many cities, you can find free English classes that will fit your schedule. After improving your English, for individuals with no high school diploma, you must get your GED to be able to further your education and pursue your dreams for higher education. USAHello or local providers can assist you in preparing for the GED exam; do your research.


  • Job Corps: Job Corps is a career and training program that offers support in a variety of careers. The great thing about the program is that it is free for eligible students, residential in some locations, and they can assist you in obtaining your GED before starting the specialized training.


  • Community Colleges: Local community colleges can offer great deals for local students, and you can find a variety of programs, training, and certificates. Community college credits can often be transferred to a four-year college, but make sure you check with the college you intend to attend on their credit transfer policy. Colleges also have advisors that can help you in deciding which classes to enroll in and which general courses will typically transfer to other universities. Never hesitate to ask the professionals questions!


  • Technical Schools and Vocational Training: Career one stop is a Department of Labor-sponsored program that can assist you in locating local programs in your area. Some programs are free for eligible students, and some are for a small fee, so it’s good to do focused research on the subjects that interest you.

Best of luck to you; I hope you find this post beneficial and that you remember to never settle for less!

Refugees shaking hands

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