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It was a sunny Friday morning in Chicago on the day of May 6, 2016. Outside, there were birds chirping and the first flowers of spring were beginning to bloom after hibernating the duration of the long, chilly winter; people were bustling about the city streets enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to the fresh start that spring often brings.
Similarly, inside the Euromonitor Chicago office walls, people were also bustling and something else was coming alive and beginning to bloom…
After months of planning, coordination and preparation, the CSR committee held an in-office mock interview event in conjunction with the organization, Upwardly Global. There were nearly 40 Euromonitor volunteers ranging across research, consulting, sales, and HR teams, all of them enthusiastically greeting 15 slightly-nervous, yet highly-eager job seekers….and the event kicked off to a fantastic start!
But, before diving into the fun, socially impactful inner workings of the event itself, it’s important to take a step back and consider, who is Upwardly Global and why should we care in the first place?
Simply put, Upwardly Global is a non-profit dedicated to helping eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. However, the overarching problem is far from simple…
Today, there are more than 1.8 million immigrants in the U.S. who are college-educated but are unemployed or significantly underemployed. In their home countries they were engineers, doctors, scientists, accountants, and non-profit professionals. In the U.S. they become cashiers, nannies, and cab drivers, if employed at all.
Let’s put this into perspective: all of the seekers participating in the Upwardly Global program have a bachelor’s degree or higher with approximately 50% holding a Master’s degree or doctorate. Coming in with an average of 7 years experience in their industries, they often deliver immediate value in early and mid-career roles while acclimating to the U.S. workforce. Unfortunately, many of these individuals lack the interviewing know-how to single-handedly land a job in the U.S. on their own and often have to take survival jobs that squander skills which could positively contribute to an American company.
To solve this problem, Upwardly Global provides customized training and support for these new Americans to give them an equal opportunity to find and secure skill-appropriate opportunities and achieve their full economic potential in the U.S. Upwardly Global also builds partnerships so that employers in the U.S. can benefit from access to this talent pool. That’s where Euromonitor comes in! The outcome? Global talent for employers, culturally competent service providers for diverse communities, and family sustaining incomes for those who were previously unemployed or underemployed – talk about a win-win!
So, how did the activities of the day unfold? The job seekers began trickling in donning their nicest suit jackets, fully clad in their professional attire with the look of sheer excitement and anticipation of fresh opportunities painted across their faces.
Prior to the event, job seekers and volunteers were paired internally at Upwardly Global keeping in mind the job titles and functions of each Euromonitor employee so they were able to pair job seekers with particular backgrounds to volunteers possessing those same skills. This made for a valuable experience for all parties!
With approximately 15 job seekers and 40 volunteers, we were able to double-pair individuals to conduct their one-on-one mock interviews in groups (2-3 volunteers and 1 job seeker) in break out rooms throughout the office.
This was an opportunity for Euromonitor employees to really put their professional expertise and skills to use, doling out pertinent advice, providing a sounding-board for questions relating to employment in America, and make connections with professionals attempting to break into the market research industry.
Research recruiter in the Chicago office and avid UpGlo volunteer, Sarah Avendano, weighed in on the professional and personal impact of events like this one, gushing:
“I have been involved with UpGlo since I used to volunteer with them in San Francisco starting around 2010 or so. Many of my former colleagues were hired from them. I am so thrilled that Euromonitor is collaborating with UpGlo because given the global nature of our company and the many employees we have from all over the world, it’s really an ideal match.”
And what an ideal match it was! Job seekers and volunteers alike had the opportunity to network after the interviews and most chimed in describing their amazing experiences. Ultimately this has led to many job seekers receiving formal interviews as a result!
Sarah continued, explaining why she volunteered for this event and why this is a special organization:
“I always enjoy volunteering with UpGlo; they are organized, have excellent instructions to the volunteers, and have superb follow-up. Every time, I walk away feeling like I truly helped someone and I always learn from the job seekers as well. UpGlo is doing such important work to help immigrant and refugee professionals and they’re doing a wonderful job at it. I encourage everyone to try volunteering with them at least once.”
But equally as important as the professional networking aspect were the personal experiences enjoyed by the job seekers themselves. Their stories illustrate that these partnerships and volunteering events are leaps and bounds more impactful than one might initially imagine.
One job seeker, Andrea, described the struggles she faced when moving to a new country and how volunteers were able to make a truly positive difference in her life and future. She recounts, “Moving to America was always a dream for me. It is the land of multi-cultures and diversity”.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and an admirable internship under her belt, she believed that finding a professional job in her area of passion and expertise would be fairly easy.
Unfortunately, as is the case for millions of immigrant job seekers, her path to employment was far from easy. Lacking professional connections in the U.S., Andrea had to take a survival job to make ends meet and conceded, “It was a very difficult experience for me, I did not know how to find a job or whom to ask. I kept looking and applying for jobs in the marketing field with no success at all.”
Luckily, there were people like Euromonitor employees willing to volunteer for a cause that resonates with so many of us.
As unemployment and underemployment continues to plague highly-educated and highly-skilled immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S., we have the unique opportunity as members of a globally minded and socially-conscious company to become beacons of light and change for this cohort of job seekers. It is our responsibility to employ our hard-earned skills, experience, and compassion to make the community and our world a bit better for our fellow person. And on that Friday in May, we certainly did.