Learning to look Idaho employers in the eye:
When immigrants come to the United States, cultural barriers may keep them from realizing their potential. Tara Wolfson, the employment and training program manager at Global Talent Idaho, has been "awestruck" at foreigners with plenty of education and experience who wound up mopping floors. So her nonprofit organization, which started taking on clients early this year, teaches immigrants who hold sought-after degrees, such as in engineering or information technology, the basics of hunting for a job.
How to approach an interview, for instance. In many countries, making eye contact is considered rude and it's thought improper to toot your own horn. "Well," she explains, "in an American interview, people want to know what you did for your company, what were your achievements, not always what the team achieved." So far, her organization has found jobs for 16 clients, and it hasn't aroused any opposition in the politically conservative state. Timing has helped. "There is really a demand for high-skilled, very specific-skilled workers," she says. "Two years ago, that wasn't the case."
Miami Dolphins throw long on citizenship:
Roughly half of Miami-Dade County's residents are immigrants, mainly from Latin America, reflected in the workforce at Sun Life Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins play. Starting last year, the pro football franchise has included a citizenship seminar as part of its orientation for the stadium's 3,000 workers, counting the 1,000 employed by the team. More than 400 employees attended one of the seminars—offered in Spanish and Haitian Creole as well as English—and more than 75 have started the process of becoming citizens.
The program is the handiwork of the Washington-based National Immigration Forum, a nonprofit group that promotes citizenship in the workplace. Jennie Murray, the organization's director of integration programs, hopes the Dolphins will continue—and expand—their participation in coming years. "It would be really cool if they had a naturalization ceremony at the stadium," she says.
"Sweatshop-free," powered by immigrants:
Few clothing companies can still boast the Made in the USA label, which American Apparel has made central to its brand of provocative fashion. But there's a secret to the company's self-described "sweatshop-free" success: immigrant workers. What the company bills as North America's largest garment factory, in Los Angeles, is operated mostly by employees born outside the United States.
Known for paying significantly higher wages than its competitors, American Apparel is offering citizenship seminars this month in multiple locations, variously in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Farsi. (The clothing manufacturer, like the Dolphins, has been working with the National Immigration Forum.) "The majority of our workforce is an immigrant workforce, whether they have legalized status or work permits, green cards, whatever the case might be," says Marty Bailey, the company's chief manufacturing officer. American Apparel wants these workers to become citizens in their new land, he adds. "If being successful means, 'I don't have to worry about renewing my documents,' that's a big deal."