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What types of jobs and college majors should I consider if I want to dedicate myself to supporting refugees?

There are millions of refugees around the world facing huge challenges. I am interested in finding ways to dedicate myself to the cause, but I'm not sure what kinds of jobs are available. I'm just finishing high school and I'm planning to go to college, but I'm not yet decided on what kind of major. All options are open. I have already searched on CareerVillage for other questions and found some interesting ones from other students with particular interests (such as medicine). But I haven't found a more general question in terms of all the options that are available.

What would be most helpful to me would be to get a lot of different types of suggestions of jobs that I could go research further. If you don't have any experience working from refugees I would still love to hear from you. If you do have experience working with refugees, I'd love to hear it!
#refugee #international-relations #college-major #international #aid #international-development #refugees

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Sara’s Answer

Hi Rebecca,

This a great question to ask at this point. I thought that in order to give back you had to enter fields such as medicine or social work (which I did). I realized later on, that my perspective was quite limited. The more I worked in the field, the more I noticed the need for certain skills that directly and indirectly contributed to refugees. The simple answer to your question is that you can pretty much major in whatever you're passionate about and then work for an organization that serves refugees. For example, you can work in accounting, fundraising, logistics, management, or more direct service jobs like teaching, physical education, or counseling.

I would recommend thinking about if you want direct contact with refugees and immigrants through direct practice, or if you don't mind helping behind the scenes. There's a lot that goes on on the back end that is integral to the work in the field; without it, the service staff couldn't do their jobs! It's important to think about the day-to-day of a job, and what you'd like to do. I recommend trying an internship in each of the areas you think you might be interested in before committing yourself to it.

I hope that's helpful.
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Mike’s Answer

Great job seeking out others who have dedicated their lives to this cause and see what they suggest. Learn from the highs and lows they experienced on their own path.

Also, if a college degree is in your plans, perhaps you could also consider looking into PsyD programs post your degree. I know it’s a lot to think about now, but would be worthwhile to do so. Most PsyD programs are costly, competitive, and require prerequisites (hence the encouragement for an early plan), yet they can be impactful in deeply meaningful ways and lead to many various career opportunities. They also enable you earn your doctorate immediately following your undergrad degree. Make sure to check on accreditation, the program director’s/faculty members’ experience and research, and attend info meetings to see how you can best prepare during your undergraduate studies.

Example: Dr. Samuel Girguis leads Azusa Pacific University’s PsyD program and is now focused on refugee mental health and is conducting research focused on Syrian refugees in Lebanon. His research examines trauma and resilience among the Syrian refugees in Lebanon as well as vicarious trauma and coping among the Lebanese who are working to aid and support Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Dr. Girguis often attests that his PsyD opened so many doors for him to serve others throughout his career.

Click here to learn more:
https://www.apu.edu/bas/faculty/sgirguis/

Disclaimer*
I used to work at APU and no doubt have a positive bias towards this program as a result. But I hope this reply gets you thinking and sparks your curiosity to explore your options. I normally don’t comment on forums like this but immediately thought of this program based on your aspirations.

Also, kudos to you for being proactive in this stage of your life. Wishing you the best (and continued discipline to be the best you can be) moving forward. Keep surrounding yourself with those that inspire greatness…if nothing else, model yourself after them and and continue to pay it forward…the college major / jobs will take care of themselves.
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Rebecca’s Answer

I am glad to hear the you would like to help the refugees. They do really need a lot of support. Would you like to help them on full time or part time basis? For full time basis, you can consider the jobs at UNHCR. It is the organization run by United Nations to assist refugees and there are other NGOs that would help the refugees.
On the other hand, below are a few examples of other NGOs:
MSF ( Médecins Sans Frontières) - They provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. This includes refugees
World Vision -They provide various forms of aid in socio-politically unstable regions where Child Sponsorship cannot be implemented. Together they will help children and families see through hardship.
ORBIS - )rbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has worked to transform lives through the prevention and treatment of blindness for over 35 years
You may consider what support and assistance you would like to offer to the refugees and then decide your major in the college.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Rebecca,

Wow, you have given yourself a noble and challenging goal. I admire that you are trying to think in terms of specific jobs, but sometimes that can create confusion rather than clarity. I would offer you some questions and some possibilities based on those answers.

1. How do you want to help? This requires you to think about the physical limits of what you may or may not want to do.
- You mentioned medicine and have already been given some options by others. Any kind of medical personnel are valuable, especially those who are intent on either going to a country to support or supporting those just arriving. Those jobs are about survival and restoring good health.
- Another way is helping refugees as they enter the US. This can be medical, but not always. Mostly everyone needs to find a way to get into the country legally. That can be administrative or legal. There are a variety of types of lawyers that can help here. You can learn a language and be an interpreter for those who do not speak English.
- You can be an advocate for refugees rights. This can be a lawyer, but this can also be some more like Marketing. You can use media to amplify the challenges and needs of refugees. Anything from being a photographer, to a web developer, to a journalist, to an artist. Advocacy often comes from focus on a particular area and skill.
2. What skills and talents do you already have? How could they be used to help refugees? If you speak a second language, make it your mission to speak it at a high level and maybe combine it with something like being a teacher or an Immigration officer. If you are a public speaker, writer, photography, artist, consider careers in Communications or Marketing roles. If you have a strong sense of duty to enforce laws or create new ones, Law in all its forms can be an avenue. Lawyer, paralegal, someone in the courts, law enforcement - all of these areas influence and enforce policies created to support refugees.

In many ways, it is easy to do a search for job titles for jobs that help refugees. What you need to do is figure out how YOU want to help refugees. The work that you are considering it not easy. You will need to be passionate about what you do because sometimes the work will be hard. That passion for what you do will get you through the hard and bring you the satisfaction of helping those in need.

Gloria
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SHANNON’s Answer

I think it's incredible that you want to help refugees!! I think you can go in a variety of directions. You can become an immigration attorney, or an adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers, a translator, or go into a medical profession (nurse, doctor, dentist, etc.) and help with any medical needs,
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Gabriella’s Answer

I do not have experience working with refugees but I do suggest a Bachelor's in Social Work or Psychology. Either would give you a good foundation, and from there you can research more specialized master's / PhD Programs if you choose to have a more specialized background. While pursuing your undergraduate degree, you can network and build connections with peers or professors to determine what these next steps could be.
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