Many newcomers to New York City face a significant challenge: navigating local programs and services designed to help them rebuild their lives and achieve greater financial security. In this context, opportunities to form in-person connections are invaluable.
That’s why WES Global Talent Bridge, in partnership with more than 15 national and local immigrant- and refugee-serving organizations, welcomed upwards of 50 attendees to a newcomer fair held at the West Side YMCA in New York City at the end of 2022. The event was designed to help attendees know where to start and what to focus on as they seek to identify the services and programs that will be most helpful to them.
This blog post, which discusses several key insights we gleaned from hosting the fair, may help other communities looking to organize a similar event.
Invite the right organizations
The newcomer fair brought together immigrant- and refugee-serving organizations from across the city that work to support economic inclusion. Participating organizations spanned the community service, workforce development, adult education, and higher education sectors and represented a wide range of services, including supports that meet linguistic and civic needs as well as employment navigation.
“The event gave us the opportunity to showcase the services that Catholic Charities Community Services provides to refugee and immigrant job seekers, and to listen to attendees’ concerns about how their immigration experience has impacted their workforce journeys. It was very interactive and mutually transformative for service providers and those who were seeking help in navigating their new communities,” said Boukary Ouedraogo, economic empowerment supervisor at Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York—Refugee Resettlement.
Other partners in attendance included the Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center; the Brooklyn, Queens, and New York Public Libraries; CAMBA; the City University of New York; Her Migrant Hub; the International Rescue Committee; the JobUp; the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; New Women New Yorkers; the New York City Welcome Back Center; RIF Asylum Support; Upwardly Global; and Venezuelan and Immigrants Aid.
Provide the right information
Newcomers learned what employment supports generally look like in the U.S., what academic assistance looks like for those with international education, and where newcomers can obtain access to in-demand, contextualized language courses.From job postings, language classes, short-term certifications—programs that provide certification in six months or less—and other workforce- and community-centered training events, a wealth of knowledge was shared with attendees that day, including partner links to programs, course calendars, and program registration forms.
“The event was truly a valuable way to connect. I shared available resources to prospective program participants and found new resources from partners in attendance that I plan on sharing with my current program participants,” said Ava Nandez, education case manager at the Welcome Back Center.
The day’s agenda included a variety of workshop presentations for interviewing in the U.S., navigating the job search process, the importance of networking, and the value of self-promotion—all culturally specific practices that may be unfamiliar to job seekers from other countries. Workshop handouts included information on job searching, résumé-writing, and interview strategies.
Visit the NYC Newcomer Fair’s resource page to access information on programs and other supports.
Amplify newcomer voices
After the workshops, attendees heard from invited guest storytellers, immigrants and refugees who shared their perspectives on how newcomers can best adapt to their new communities. These unique experiences added a personal element to the fair. Each storyteller spoke about their journey to academic and career success in the U.S., and several recalled receiving support along the way from many of the event’s partner organizations.
These personal stories (later published on the WES Advisor blog) included the experience of an internationally trained nurse from Mali who passed the NCLEX with assistance from the Welcome Back Center, and that of a Venezuelan who was forced to leave behind a successful career in journalism and advertising but who is now reestablishing his communications career thanks to the support of partners like Venezuelan and Immigrants Aid and Upwardly Global.
“[The fair] was a valuable experience for all of us, and such a great opportunity to expand our network of supporters. It was particularly beneficial to have not only the opportunity to table at the event, but also to deliver our mini workshop and have one of our community members share her story. That made the fair so unique,” said Arielle Kandel, founder and CEO of New Women New Yorkers.
The goal of the fair was to provide newcomers with paths to financial security that will help them as they settle into their new communities and in turn help those communities to thrive.
Visit the WES Global Talent Bridge U.S. Program Map to learn more about initiatives that support internationally trained immigrants and refugees.