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‘Not Easy, Not Impossible’ Path to Careers for Undocumented Students

June 16, 2021

“Things are not always going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean that they’re impossible,” shares Berkeley alum Uriel Rivera ’15. A new workshop series, offered by the Cal Alumni Association’s Alumni Scholars Program and facilitated by Rivera, aims to acknowledge the stigmas undocumented students face, and demystify what comes after graduation by connecting them with resources for navigating post-Cal life.

“Things are not always going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean that they’re

Despite the uncertainty in the world right now over jobs, Rivera urged students to think about how virtual environments may have improved access to new opportunities and allow for more connection. He also wants students to use their stories as undocumented individuals as tools for social entrepreneurship. “In my experience, undocumented immigrants who might not have all the doors open for them are resilient because they have to create their own path and set the foundation for their own dreams.”

There is no such thing as preparing too early for life after graduation. Rivera offers tips for students as they begin to map out their careers, including learning a new technical skill, improving existing skills, and creating a professional portfolio.

He emphasized the importance of seeking out mentorship opportunities, being your own advocate, and maintaining a support network. “It can be difficult to see yourself in places where people do not look like you. Mentorship allows you to explore career options by interacting with experienced professionals,” says Rivera.

Rivera shared his affinity for folklórico music as well as a line from a song by Jose Alfredo Jimenez that he feels relates to his journey as an immigrant: No hay que llegar primero, hay que saber llegar / You don’t have to get there first, but you have to know how to get there. Says Rivera, “It’s about trusting your journey, embodying who you are, and being okay in your own flesh.”

Read about Rivera’s time at UC Berkeley, his transition into the workforce, and why he advocates for undocumented students.

Watch Highlighting the Story of Undocumented Students

Find out how you can support scholars through the Alumni Scholars Program.