A networking program to connect immigrants and refugees to established Pittsburgh professionals is underway in the city.
The Pittsburgh Connector Program will set up one half-hour-long meeting between a recent arrival with professional experience and a Pittsburgher in the same career field. The local shares three professional contacts with the immigrant, and then those contacts each share three more.
"Before long, the newcomer has 12 or 13 people in the city, in the industry in which they want to work, all keeping an eye and ear open for opportunities for them," said Robyn Webb, the director of the original Connector program in Halifax, Canada.
Connector programs have spread across Canada, as well as to St. Louis, Mo. and Detroit, Mich. According to Webb, more than 3,000 immigrants have participated in the program's different locations, and over 1,700 jobs have been found through the programs.
The point is to ease the transition to Pittsburgh for recent arrivals, which Webb said can be an isolating and stressful experience. The established Pittsburgher will be screened ahead of time to make sure they're serious about following through on the program's promise.
"It's not asking them to be a mentor, it's not asking them to hire somebody, it's not an interview," she said. "It's an information session."
Pittsburgh non-profit All for All is spearheading the program, and is currently searching for corporate partners and interested Pittsburghers to join the program. Their goal is for 100 job-seeking immigrants living in Pittsburgh to join the program in the next year.