The Professional Pathways program will help immigrants, refugees, and asylees to return to former professional careers or to continue higher education.
The International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) and Leadership Buffalo announced today that the organizations are working together to provide mentorship opportunities for immigrants, refugees, and asylees, allowing them more opportunities for career success. IIB clients will link with Buffalo-based volunteer mentors in professions to which they aspire or in professions they formerly held in their home countries.
The mentorship project is a pilot program, supported by the Refugee Career Pathways (RCP) of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that will not only serve clients of RCP but also New York’s Office of New Americans (ONA)program. Both programs help immigrants, refugees and asylees get the necessary credentials, education, and experience in professional and skilled career fields.
The International Institute of Buffalo is one of only 17 national agencies selected for the ORR grant and one of 6 in New York. In addition, IIB is the only local agency focusing on immigrant professional pathways. It also accepts referrals for any eligible immigrant, refugee, or asylee regardless of the agency that resettled them.
“This is an excellent opportunity for business professionals in Buffalo to give back to their communities and professions,” said Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo. “Refugees and asylees aren’t seeking special treatment or an unfair advantage. They are just looking for some help getting the lay of the land in the American business world, which is often very different from the countries they left.”
Refugees and asylees hail from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, and Turkey.
The volunteer mentors represent professional fields including IT, Healthcare, Banking, Media, Construction, Finance, and Law and are all Leadership Buffalo alums. They will give career advice, offer professional development, and take their mentees to business networking events.
“Connecting people is what we do, so to be able to connect New Americans with professionals in their field to assist in bridging the gap is an honor for us,” said Althea Luehrsen, CEO of Leadership Buffalo. “New Americans face a plethora of obstacles as they begin their journey in our community. We are excited to play a hand in supporting them on this journey.”
During these meetings, mentors will share their career experiences, discuss barriers to success, and offer insights into effective networking strategies in their field. They also invite their mentees to meetings, shadowing opportunities, and workplace gatherings.
Regular meetings begin on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.