We have recently talked quite a bit about “self-made expats” in this blog. But what about skilled immigrants, or highly qualified refugees, who’d like to “make it”, too, but who often have more difficulties in finding a career opportunity in their field? The US organization “Upwardly Global” aims to support this very specific group of job seekers in the States.
1. What is Upwardly Global all about?
Upwardly Global is a national NPO in the US, with local offices in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.
Our mission: to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees and integrate this population into the professional U.S. workforce.
Our vision: a United States where skilled new Americans are a recognized and valued source of talent.
2. What’s the story behind “UpGlo”?
Jane Leu founded Upwardly Global in 2000 with a mission to equip skilled immigrants with necessary skills to rebuild their careers in the US and helps US employers benefit from the hidden pool of skilled immigrants.
As an Assistant Director in the refugee resettlement field, Jane Leu toured a New York poultry production plant that was considered a model employer for refugees. The owner introduced Jane to two of his best employees: a former engineer from Iraq and a surgeon from Bosnia.
Disheartened by this waste of human potential, Jane launched Upwardly Global in 1999 from her kitchen table. This simple idea has grown into the national organization that we know as Upwardly Global, or, to our community of committed supporters, as “UpGlo.”
3. How exactly does your concept work? What can you offer to immigrants on the one hand and to employers on the other hand?
Our success is a result of our two-pronged approach: the Jobseeker Service Program and the Employer Network Program.
Through the Job Seeker Service program, qualified skilled immigrants:
– receive mentoring and job placement support by UpGlo staff
– practice networking and interviewing skills
– gain access to top companies through UpGlo’s extensive employer partners
– be included in the UpGlo job board used by top employers to search for candidates
Since our inception in 2000, we have helped over 1,650 immigrant secured their first professional jobs in the U.S. We continue to expand our service to serve more skilled immigrants across the U.S. by launching our online training program in March.
To date, more than 100 qualified skilled immigrant job seekers participate in the online training program. 11 of them have already secured positions in their trained fields. Skilled immigrants who are interested in joining our program should visit our website to learn about the eligibility requirements and to apply online.
Through the Employer Network Program, we partner with various companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Google, Standard & Poor’s, Accenture, Standard Chartered Bank, as well as small to medium-sized enterprises, NPOs, and government agencies to help them build their talent pipeline.
We also launched the Upwardly Global job board early this year that allows employers gain first hand access to screened talent in order to meet their hiring needs.
4. Can you share one of your most recent success stories with us?
Edwin moved to the U.S. from Colombia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering and two years of professional experience with reducing contamination in water supply systems.
Like many other immigrants, Edwin moved to the U.S. to improve his career opportunities. However, upon arrival he quickly realized that segueing into an engineering career was harder than he anticipated.
To make ends meet, he worked as a customer service assistant at SAKS Fifth Avenue, but was anxious to work in his field, and felt every day he spent side-tracked by his survival job was another day lost towards obtaining his dream job. Deflated, Edwin began to feel his international experience and education did not have a value in his new home country, and he began to feel hopeless that he would practice engineering again.
All of this changed when a friend introduced him to Upwardly Global (UpGlo)’s Immigrant Bridge Program, a program run in partnership with NYC’s Economic Development Corporation.
Edwin enrolled with UpGlo, where he and dozens of others with in-demand skills in the engineering, IT, health care, and finance sectors have received soft skills training and job search guidance. The program covers topics related to immigrant workforce integration and connects these candidates to employers seeking talent in these industries.
Through this training program, Edwin learned how to market himself to employers, focus his job search, and improve his interview skills by practicing with volunteer engineering professionals.
Just two months after Edwin completed the UpGlo Immigrant Bridge Program, he was offered a job at Leslie’s Pool Supply Company as an Operating Technician. Edwin gladly accepted, and he is now using his skills and experience in his first professional job in the U.S.
“I want to thank UpGlo for doing an incredible job. I have found through this program the hope to achieve my American dream and I am looking forward to helping other skilled immigrants rebuild their careers in their new home country,” said Edwin.
Edwin stayed true to his promise; shortly after he began working at Leslie’s Pool Supply Company, he learned of additional open positions and worked with our staff to ultimately hire another UpGlo participant, Juan, who also had experience in mechanical engineering.
Many news articles and studies report that employers feel unable to fill vacant positions in the STEM industries. However, Edwin and Juan’s story clearly demonstrates skilled immigrants are an untapped pool of talent that, if given the right tools and resources to connect to employers, can jumpstart their careers in the U.S. and contribute to the economic growth of our city and country.
5. Since you are an NPO, where does your funding come from? How could InterNations members support UpGlo?
Our programs and services are funded through:
1. grants from private foundations such as Robin Hood Foundation, Kellogg Foundation and the New York Women Foundation
2. individual donors, including our volunteers, job seekers and alumni
3. our annual gala dinner
4. an annual fundraiser hosted by our Leadership Council
5. corporate partners such as Accenture, Standard Chartered Bank, or JPMorgan Chase
6. grants from New York City Economic Development Corporations (NYCEDC) to connect skilled immigrants with in-demand skills in the engineering, IT, health care, and finance sectors with employers seeking talent in these industries.
There are many ways that InterNations members can support Upwardly Global:
1. Tell your network about us and introduce us to new people.
2. Get your company involved in our corporate volunteer opportunities.
3. Refer work-authorized, skilled immigrants to our program.
4. Help our local Leadership Councils with their fundraisers.
5. Become a volunteer and help change the life of a skilled immigrant.
6. Donate to help change the lives of skilled immigrants in the U.S.
7. Stay connected to us through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
8. Join our Communications Resource Group. We are always looking for great volunteer designers, copywriters, videographers, and photographers.
(Photo credit: Upwardly Global. Used with permission.)
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