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Viacom Execs Mentor Refugees

Posted on May 27, 2016 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

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Here, in Veronica Rivero’s inaugural volunteer blog for Charity in Action, she gets to explore her passion about immigration and helping foreigners adapt to life in the U.S. Originally from Peru, Veronica is a media exec. by day and aspiring writer by night.

A group of 10 Viacom volunteers gathered together at the Catholic Charities office near Wall Street on May 20 to mentor, conduct mock interviews and provide career guidance to members of the Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement Department.

This was part of Viacom employees’ annual day of service, “Viacommunity,” where volunteers partner with different local organizations to better the communities which Viacom serves and make a positive social impact.

“I have parents that are foreigners, so I know this process can be very difficult. Being part of a huge media company and helping others it’s just heartwarming to me, and I hope we can make a difference today,” said Viacom’s team leader Chioma Okpara.

As an immigrant myself, I was moved to see such a diverse group of volunteers from different backgrounds that were knowledgeable in interview preparation and eager to help other immigrants prepare for their next career challenge.

The Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Deparment helps refugees and immigrants, who have to flee their countries to escape violence and persecution, make the transition to the United States a little easier by providing assistance with applications for refugee status, offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and providing training to secure a job, among other services.

“I love this type of work. I like to assist and help people who are looking for jobs, especially because I am first generation. I’m the product of someone that came to this country and didn’t speak English, so I’d love to help others adapt to the US easily as well,” said volunteer Anne Edouard.

Cristina, the program lead, explained to me that enrollment duration varies, based on the program, from 3 weeks to 6 months. Viacom volunteers took part on the 3-week program, which provides resume writing assistance, conducts mock interviews, and teaches overall job preparation skills. 

Volunteers paired up with refugees to conduct lengthy mock interviews, critique their resume including their strengths and weaknesses, and provide detailed feedback in order to help them prepare for their job search for positions in retail sales and as bank tellers.

Program members recently toured a local bank branch, where they spoke with local bank employees and explored job opportunities as bank tellers.  After their mock interviews with Viacom volunteers, they will visit a TJ Maxx store where they will also conduct a tour of the store and interview for positions in customer service and retail sales.

“My experience with the program has been wonderful,” said Dean Malcolm, an immigrant from Jamaica. “The program has taught me a lot and it has got me to a level where I am confident I can find the right job.”

What an enthusiastic group of friendly people, excited to share their career advice and help the refugees adapt to their new life in the United States!  Based on this experience I hope to volunteer  with Catholic Charities not only as a blogger but with their work helping immigrants myself one day.