Category Archives: Refugee Employment Stories

VISTAs: A Legacy of Service

MCC Refugee Services has been fortunate for the past 6 years to host 18 members of the AmeriCorps VISTA program. This year the VISTAs impacted the lives of more than 500 refugees by coordinating over $66,000 in in-kind and financial donations for refugees. These projects have included housing, employment, mental health and community outreach. Read on to hear which projects each VISTA enjoyed most during their year at MCC: Mina: Healing Resources Assistant “I have been most excited about the surveys with psychologists that I have been conducting along with Sue Johnston, MSW, LICSW. We have been calling all of the mental health providers in Minnesota that health insurance providers have told us are competent to provide diagnostic assessments cross-culturally. It has been interesting and concerning to talk to so many psychologists with so many different approaches to testing and working with interpreters. I am looking forward to compiling all … Continue reading

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Marisol’s New-found Freedom

Working at MCC Refugee Services has opened my eyes to many things I take for granted, including bikes. I am embarrassed to say that since I got my driver’s license, my bicycle has been hanging up in my parents’ garage. However, bicycles reentered my life in full force when 25 refugees from MCC Refugee Services were given the opportunity to borrow bicycles from the Community Partner Bike Library program at Cycles for Change. I was excited to see the health and environmental benefits it would provide to newly arrived refugees and the freedom from dependence on bus schedules it would give them. But once the bicycles were distributed, I began to really understand what it means for refugees to have access to bicycles. Marisol and her son Roberto* are Cuban parolees who arrived in Minnesota in 2011 and they both received bicycles.Marisol said that before she left Cuba she was … Continue reading

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Computer Donation Program Endures

If you have ever searched for a job in the United States you know how long and exhausting the process can be. You probably used a computer to search for jobs, create your resume, write a cover letter, and possibly to fill out online job applications. In fact, a computer could arguably be one of the most important tools in your job search. Can you imagine how different the process might be if you had never used a computer before and didn’t have one of your own to use? For refugees coming to America this is often the case. Not having a computer at home can greatly slow down the job-seeking process and make it more difficult to become computer literate. Thanks to RenovoData Services and their CEO Frank Gustafson, 12 refugee families enrolled in MCC Employment Services will receive their own computer for their home! MCC Refugee Services formerly … Continue reading

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Asylee Interview: The Job Search

Meet Nayla: an asylee from Tanzania who is working with employment counselors at MCC Refugee Services. Unlike some refugees, Nayla had extensive experience with formal education and employment in her home country. When she needed to come to the US, Nayla had to leave behind a thriving career and impressive credentials, including a degree and 11 years of experience as an accountant. “I decided to study accounting because I thought I could get job anywhere,” said Nayla. Nayla worried about whether or not she’d be able to continue in her career path before she came to America to join her husband. “When I was in Tanzania, my expectation was zero [for finding a job in America]… because everything is new for me. New country, new people, new culture, new language.” She worried that employers would not recognize her university degree. “How can I express that I went to school? People … Continue reading

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We take one computer, then open…Fantastic!

Every year MCC Refugee Services provides Employment assistance to about 150 refugees and asylees. Each of those individuals hopes to become self-sufficient as soon as possible but the search for a job is not easy. Recently, we’ve found that volunteering provides refugees a great opportunity to gain helpful US work experience, practice their English skills, and give back to their new community. In September 2011, we connected with a relatively new non-profit called Free Geek Twin Cities . Free Geek’s mission is two pronged: 1) to decrease electronic waste by recycling or refurbishing used donated computers and 2) to provide computers and computer education to people in the community who otherwise cannot access them. Our main goal for refugees who volunteer is for them to gain US work experience but the six refugees and asylees who have begun volunteering at Free Geek have gained so much more. Afia* came to … Continue reading

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Guest post: Employment Services Intern

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in MCC’s offices? Our current Employment Services Intern, Hannah, shares her experience with Refugee Services. “I began my internship at MCC in early July and hit the ground running. The staff was so welcoming and quick to accept me as a member of their team. I have been impressed with the patience of the staff, the excellent relationships they develop with the refugees they serve, and their extensive knowledge of Twin Cities employment networks and community resources. It is a privilege to work with them and learn from them. I learn something new every day. A typical day for me is – well there is no typical day. In only my second week on the job, I helped teach a job readiness class which included basic explanations of the job search process and helps them navigate the paperwork that comes with … Continue reading

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