Search Results for: mentor

Free Employment Mentoring How To Guide

Shafiq 2If you are a regular reader of Higher’s blog, you may recall some stories from Lancaster, PA about an employment mentoring pilot project begun in 2013. As a program of LIRS, Higher has been involved in the pilot project that now includes two additional pilot sites in Atlanta, GA and Omaha, NE.

Throughout the initial pilot phase, I have watched each site adapt the model for their local environment and incorporate mentoring as a career advancement tool for refugees without a big burden on staff time or resources. The results have been meaningful for both mentees and mentors. Click here to read what Shafiqullah Jahish and Dan McCaster (pictured at right) learned and achieved from their mentoring experience in Omaha, NE.  

Together with all three implementing sites, LIRS has developed a how to guide for adopting a similar “Careers and Cnnections Employment Mentoring Project”.  Download a free copy of the guide from LIRS website.

Rebecca Armstrong Head ShotRebecca Armstrong has been a part of refugee employment technical assistance for more than 11 years, most recently as Director of Higher. Many of you have worked with Becca and will join Higher in wishing her well as she leaves Higher and LIRS to become the Executive Director of a civil rights and arts empowerment organization based in Selma, Alabama. Higher/LIRS employment mentoring project is the most recent practical refugee employment resource we will all continue to use going forward. Thanks, Becca, we’ll miss you. 

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Skill Training, Mentors and Community College Partnership

Photo Credit:  TaRhonda Thomas
Photo Credit: TaRhonda Thomas
a success story from the African Community Center’s Commercial Food and Safety Service Training Program.

Higher featured this innovative Denver, CO program in a 2013 postClick here for an update and get some great ideas you can consider in your own programs, including:

  • how mentors can help clients learn more, explore career paths and deepen community connections, and
  • the value in forging relationships with community colleges.

Think food service means dead end dishwasher jobs?  Reconsider with this story, and a previous Higher blog post with suprising industry stats about upward mobility in the restaurant field.

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Mentoring Resources

Mentoring Resources – A collection of resources devoted to mentoring programs. If you have resources or information that you would like to share, please contact us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Study Confirms Mentoring Works

Mentoring Study HighlightAcross the country, mentoring programs are an increasingly common strategy to boost employment outcome and client success.  Some programs target new arrivals.  Others focus on clients ready for job upgrades or professional recertification.

A 2013 Canadian study of a mentoring initiative targeting newly arrived immigrant professionals offers evidence to support what we already believe.  Mentoring really works.  In the 12 months of the study, participants working in their professional fields went from 17% to 71%.  Incomes, employment and full-time employment also rose significantly.   Download the full report on our website.

ALLIES (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies) is a project jointly funded by Maytree and The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. ALLIES supports local efforts in Canadian cities to successfully adapt and implement programs that further the suitable employment of skilled immigrants

Higher will continue to follow the progress of a very successful employment mentoring pilot project at Lutheran Refugee Services of Lancaster, PA, which will be replicated in a few more sites over the next year.  The current issue of Higher’s newsletter, just released yesterday, highlights another great example from USCCB Affiliate Catholic Charities Maine in Portland.  If you missed it, click here for a link to the article.

 

 

 

 

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Update: Lancaster, PA’s Employment Mentoring Pilot Project

A lot has been happening in the Lancaster, PA employment mentoring pilot program we’ve highlighted in previous posts.  Eight months into an initial one year pilot, the third group of 12 more refugee-mentor pairs is being finalized to reach a total of 30 teams.  Here are a few stories and valuable lessons learned through our ongoing partnership with Lutheran Refugee Services (LRS) of Lancaster, PA and LIRS.  The project seeks to deepen refugee social integration through employment-focused mentoring.Mentoring snip one

Job shadowing, community college orientations and informational interviews are just a few of the opportunities being generated through the program.

One mentee has been preapproved for a home loan and is going through the learning experience of buying a home with the help of his mentor.

All of the refugees participMentoring Khem and Alating in the program are gaining community ties, opportunities to practice English and confidence in their ability to engage and interact with their new communities.

For example, Khem and Pramila Subedi and Khem’s mentor Al Duncan, CEO of Thomas E. Strauss, Inc. attended a recent LIRS Board Meeting to talk about their mentoring experience.  (See their photo at left.)  Khem says that through his participation in the mentor program, “I am getting wider every day.”  Al feels that mentoring is a common and valuable experience in our country and it’s not so different to involve refugees.

It’s hard to capture in writing the energy and motivation present in the room whenever the teams get together, as they did this past Saturday to discuss an important lesson learmentor snip twoned so far.

The initial thinking was that each pair would follow a very unique path based on the opportunities available to work towards achieving specific career goals.  Computer skills, advanced ESL and the ability to access additional education and training suggest the need for some common resources and steps to achieving any individual career goals.

At Saturday’s meeting, mentor outreach consultant Ellen Willenbecher provided all of the mentors with a packet listing resources already available in the community.  That helps create space to leverage more

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of the unique skills mentors can offer.  For example, mentor Angela Harnish, an ESL instructor at the University of Delaware, offered a workshop on easy strategies for working on accent reduction.  The room was packed with refugee mentees and their friends and families (See photo at left.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Second Group of Mentors and Refugees Starts to Work in Lancaster, PA

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Higher is partnering with Lutheran Refugee Service in Lancaster, PA in an exciting pilot project that will  help a growing number of refugees pursue their career goals, find a job upgrade and expand their community networks.  These pictures are from last week’s second cohort kick-off and orientation that started an additional seven partnerships off to a great start.  Read more about this innovative partnership in a recent Lancaster Online article, which motivated all seven of the mentors in the second group to get involved.

Khem Subedi, a Bhutanese refugee who was featured in the article, is now joined by his wife Pramila (in the beautiful green sari in the collage).  Follow the progress of Khem, Pramila, their mentors and the rest of the group by subscribing to Higher’s blog.   We’ll also be sharing what we learn so that others can help refugees deepen their community connections and professional success through mentoring.

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Understanding and Benefiting from Corporate Volunteering

Volunteers are an extremely useful resource to expand support services for refugees. They bring insight to U.S. culture and systems, access to networks for early employment opportunities and career advancement, and time and resources to support refugees. Successful volunteer engagement builds an agency’s capacity to serve clients. Traditional volunteerism engages individuals and small groups in mentoring, teaching, setting up apartments, and more! In addition, volunteers often serve as the best program advocates and donors because of their unique connection to refugee resettlement work. To broaden volunteerism, agencies may choose to engage businesses and employers in volunteer opportunities.

Corporate volunteering is when a company partners with a nonprofit to provide volunteers for the organization, often with paid time off or other incentives for their employee volunteers. Corporate volunteering can offer a lot of benefits, not only to resettlement programs, but to the companies themselves. Corporations benefit from volunteering through increased staff morale, staff team building, and being more visible in their communities. Resettlement agencies benefit by being able to tap into a group of organized fully vetted volunteers.    There are also strong links between corporate volunteering and corporate giving.

How to Use Corporate Volunteering

Corporations can provide on-site volunteers in all the traditional ways, or they could provide volunteers from a distance by doing things remotely like:

  • Serve as one-on-one ESL conversation partners with refugees over Skype
  • Provide industry specific employment strategies or insight
  • Teach job readiness classes
  • Facilitate mock interviews
  • Organize fundraisers or collection drives
  • Create “kits” of donated items for arriving refugees
  • Banks could provide free checking accounts and assist financial literacy classes on managing money and using a bank account
  • Career mentors or career visit days for refugee youth at the corporate site

Corporate volunteering is a great way to include local businesses into your organization’s mission while simultaneously providing services to your clients. Be sure to be prepared with opportunities and information on how to best work together before seeking new partnerships.

For more information on employment specific corporate volunteering, read Higher’s previous post.

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LSS/NCA Shares Career Advancement Employment Strategies

More often than not, the first job a refugee gets in the U.S. is only temporary, as its main purpose is to start generating income to cover living expenses. Many refugees are eager to return to a previous field or pursue other career opportunities, but there may be obstacles that stand in the way: the need for professional-level English, re-certification of degrees or licenses, and the lack of a professional network, to name a few. In this post, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) shares their two-pronged approach to assisting clients who are ready to embark on their career pathway.

  1. Utilizing Volunteers

Twice a month, a professional career coach volunteers with LSS/NCA to provide highly-skilled clients with training on writing resumes, cover letters, and job applications. LSS/NCA also has a growing list of career mentors with industry-specific expertise to provide staff and refugees with networking and other field-specific guidance. These volunteers utilize their own professional backgrounds to assist clients in navigating their chosen career path.

  1. Partnering With Local Service Providers

To address the barriers clients face when pursuing professional employment, LSS/NCA relies on their close partnerships with other community organizations that specialize in career advancement. One of these partnerships is with Your Edge for Success, a career coaching company that provides personalized career services and professional job seminars.

Connecting with American Job Centers and WIOA training programs provides additional routes for refugees to achieve their long-term goals. LSS/NCA partners with the local workforce development center to regularly provide information sessions featuring panelists from a variety of professions. LSS/NCA also has access to vocational training programs in the medical, accounting, and project management fields.

To provide networking support, LSS/NCA works with Northern Virginia Friends of Refugees, a network of faith communities, NGOs, businesses, and public agencies interested in assisting and connecting with refugees. The organization sponsors an annual networking event for refugees that features guest speakers and field professionals offering advice. Last year, the event drew over 100 refugees and SIVs.

Each of these partnerships build deeper connections between refugees and the local community, while providing critical career support to refugees beyond their initial job placement after arrival.

For more information on LSS/NCA’s employment work, contact Lauren Ressue at ressuel@lssnca.org.

To find training in your area, look at CareerOneStop’s Local Training Finder.

What career advancement opportunities do you provide for your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org!

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Partnering on Corporate Days of Service

Partnerships with employers beyond job placements are a strategic way to maintain and grow business relationships. Businesses support refugee resettlement programs through employee giving, event sponsorship, donations, and grants, but did you know that many firms also sponsor employee volunteer days? Many companies offer their employees 1 to 3 days per year to go out into the community and provide volunteer service.  For example, TripAdvisor allows their employees to take up to five days of paid leave to volunteer their time and skills at any nonprofit organization, including those working with refugees. Before reaching out to an employer with a proposal, Higher recommends that refugee programs prepare a list and description of short-term volunteer roles that would be appropriate for such an event. When providing options, be mindful of corporate preferences such as volunteer opportunities that might be done at the business’s location or one-time large group projects.

Here are just a few ways in which refugee employment programs might utilize corporate volunteers:

  • Have the company put on a fair or job readiness class where refugees can learn about different aspects of American workplace culture. This event can also include informational interviews and interviewing or networking practice for clients.
  • Have the company’s employee’s act as career mentors for refugee clients.
  • Seek out professional volunteers that might offer their skills for special projects such as database creation, grant writing, social media, or marketing.

Related Resources from the Higher Blog:

A Few Ways to Engage Volunteers in your Employment Program

Targeted Volunteer Recruitment- for Employment Programs

4 Ways to Utilize Volunteers in Employment Services

Do you have a great corporate partner that you would like to share with us? Please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Building Professional Online Networking for Refugee Clients

Higher presents a guest post from Jessica Ploen, Career Advancement Specialist at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (LFSN), on their partnership with LinkedIn to provide training for highly skilled refugees.

In today’s professional landscape networking is one of the best ways to secure a job and a professional online profile amplifies your reach. Limited personal connections in the US and narrow exposure to online professional systems present a barrier for newly arrived refugees. Developing a high-quality LinkedIn profile helps clients overcome this barrier and increase confidence by showcasing their skills, education, and experience.

In February 2018, LFSN partnered with LinkedIn to provide refugee clients with a training on creating and updating their LinkedIn profiles, including profile pictures. Guidance on how to utilize LinkedIn profiles in the job search process was also provided.

This partnership was inspired by a Higher blog post describing a jointly produced job fair for immigrants and refugees where participants received guidance from LinkedIn staff. LFSN proposed a similar idea to LinkedIn and was connected with “LinkedIn for Good,” a program promoting access to economic opportunity for underserved communities including youth, veterans, and refugees. LinkedIn for Good helps participants build networks and acquire needed skills for advancement in their fields of interest.

A total of 14 LFSN clients and 2 mentors attended the event on February 17th, 2018. After presenting on how to build a great LinkedIn profile, a LinkedIn Product Education Consultant and three volunteer LinkedIn staff created professional profile photographs for attendees.

Participants had the opportunity to interact with other refugees facing similar challenges in building online and professional networks. With their new profiles, participants report feeling empowered to expand their network and more hopeful of advancing in former or new career pathways. LFSN staff members also gained skills in assisting other clients with creating LinkedIn profiles.

Encouraging and supporting refugees to pursue their career goals is critical to promoting long-term professional development, economic self-sufficiency, and community integration.

For more information on the partnership and event, email Jessica at jploen@lfsneb.org.

How do you incorporate partners to help your clients along their career pathway? Email us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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