Career Transitions of Highly Skilled Immigrants: Two Case Studies

Alexandra Lane, Debbiesiu L. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Highly skilled immigrants face many obstacles in transitioning their career from their home country to the United States and often face challenges in gaining recognition for their skills and credentials. By studying the specific stressors and protective factors these immigrants experience in their career transitions, career counselors can better assist this population through the process. Two phenomenological case studies were conducted to understand and describe the lived experience of highly skilled immigrants as they adapt to new careers in the United States. Four themes emerged from the interpretative phenomenological analysis: loss of community, lack of voice, frustration with U.S. education and regulatory systems, and pride in vocation. Findings suggest that career counselors should engage in advocacy for this group and promote vocational pride and community engagement. Future research should elaborate on the specific circumstances of highly skilled immigrants from diverse demographic backgrounds and professions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalCareer Development Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • acculturation
  • career transitions
  • highly skilled immigrants
  • immigration
  • underemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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