By Hannah E. Jones
Finding a job can be difficult enough, but when you’re a refugee in an unfamiliar city, finding the right fit can feel impossible. A local hiring fair is looking to help.
The job fair will feature 20 to 30 local employers — some looking to hire on-the-spot — with a wide range of career paths, like Delta Air Lines, Goodwill of North Georgia, Grady Health System and Marriott Hotels. The primary goal is to help refugees find long-term economic stability through local career opportunities.
Clarkston is known as the most diverse square mile in America — commonly called the “Ellis Island of the South.” For the event hosts, the metro Atlanta city felt like the right place to reach newcomers looking for employment.
“We intentionally picked the Clarkson Community Center so we can bring companies to the heart of where all the refugees are,” said Accenture Managing Director Sissi Jennings, who is coordinating the job fair.
She continued: “It’s common for refugees to come and their first job is in a local grocery store or something with hourly wages. We’re very much focused on helping them find the next job or jobs that are more commensurate with their skills. We’ve been trying to offer more [jobs in] corporate, technology, healthcare — just more career-building jobs.”
Moeen Amini, an Accenture recruiting specialist, moved from Afghanistan to Stone Mountain last year. Amini worked as an HR coordinator in Afghanistan but after arriving in the U.S., he struggled to find work opportunities that matched his skills and experience.
In his new position, he’s able to use this firsthand experience to help folks in a similar situation.
“All the refugees that come to the United States, I understand that they have lots of skills and good experience, even decades of experience,” Amini said. “They need to have the opportunity from some organizations like Accenture has given to me, so they could really create a positive impact on the company. Overall, the contributions of the refugees would make a great and positive impact on the success and development of Georgia and the U.S.”
According to Amini and Jennings, some of the biggest hurdles to employment for refugees are lack of knowledge about the local job landscape, language barriers and trouble connecting with local employers. Through the hiring fair, the teams hope to remove these major roadblocks.
In addition to meeting with local companies, attendees can also expect resume workshops, translation services, a children’s area with games and toys and a free lunch. If visitors need assistance in other areas of life, a few staff members from Senator Jon Ossoff’s office will also be available to provide resources.
“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to come,” Jennings said. “All the barriers we could think of, we’re trying to remove, so they can come and really focus on finding that next job for themselves.”
There aren’t any requirements to attend the job fair, and Jennings and Amini hope that local refugees take advantage of the available resources.
“This is a grand chance for the refugees that recently arrived in Atlanta,” Amini said. “Most of them have a hard time finding a job matching their skills and their interests. This is a great opportunity to start working, start building their career and start feeding their families because they really need some help, support and good jobs.”
Jennings added: “It’s very hard to rebuild a life in a new country, but there are a lot of people, companies and a community here who want to help. Our collective goal is to help them find ways not just to survive here, but to thrive. If they’re just willing to walk through the door, there are many people willing to help. So, they should just come and see what they can walk out with.”
The Refugee Hiring Fair is on Thursday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Clarkston Community Center. Click here for additional information.