Rebuilding lives in the United States

Giving By Emily Larson February 19, 2021

Cecilia moved to the United States from Peru in 2011 with a college degree and work experience. However, when she arrived in the United States, finding a job that fit her skillset and career aspirations proved challenging. With no professional connections, credentials from a Peruvian university that was not well known in the U.S., and language barriers to overcome, Cecilia worked as a cashier in a grocery store while she continued to send her resume out in the hopes of securing a fulfilling job. Her friend introduced her to Upwardly Global, an organization supporting immigrants and refugees in the United States with rebuilding their professional careers.

According to Upwardly Global, 45% of recently arrived immigrants have at least a bachelor’s degree. Yet nearly 2 million of these college-educated immigrants and refugees are unemployed or underemployed – and, as a result, many have experienced poverty, homelessness, or other challenges, especially in the wake of COVID-19 and the economic recession. As part of the Western Union Foundation’s mission of connecting underserved populations to the global economy, we have partnered with Upwardly Global since 2015 to support these immigrant and refugee professionals, people like Cecilia.

Upwardly Global supported Cecilia in navigating the job market, refining her resume, and building her professional network. She learned many nuances to changing her resume for the US job market versus her home country of Peru. She learned how to interview, received mock interviews with constructive feedback, which in turn helped her build confidence with her English-language skills. After the coaching that Upwardly Global provided, Cecilia received a job as an event producer in Chicago. She has continued to build her career and now works as part of the staff at Upwardly Global, managing courses and trainings that are provided to job seekers. Cecilia found Upwardly Global’s resources instrumental in her success in the United States and is inspired to give back and support people like her.

“Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help,” Cecilia says. “There are so many people and organizations willing to support immigrants and refugees. You just need to have the courage to talk to them.”

The Western Union Foundation believes enabling immigrants and refugees to access and compete within the global economy will lead to higher economic growth. That is why we collaborate with partners like Upwardly Global, who are helping provide the resources and tools needed for better jobs and a chance at a better life.

“Diverse workplaces are innovative, resilient, future-ready workplaces.  That’s why Upwardly Global is proud to have one-third of our staff comprised of former program participants, immigrants, and refugees representing more than 20 countries,” said Jina Krause-Vilmar, President & CEO of Upwardly Global.  “We know that people like Ceci make our organization stronger. And we’re grateful to Western Union Foundation for supporting our work in championing the skills of our program participants and building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces across the country.”

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