We all remember our first job interview and the anxiety that surrounded it. Most of us don't love this process, but feel confident we can get through it.
We might have prepared by having a dress rehearsal with a friend or family member, planning for the typical interview questions ("Tell me a time when...."), and providing solid answers to help us get that job.
Now imagine this whole scenario in a different country, with a different language that you may/may not know (you may/may not have an interpreter), for a job that you have no prior experience with, and you are interviewing against 10Xs the candidate pool. Where is your anxiety now?
Catholic Charities Refugee Services department has partnered with members of the Middle Tennessee business community to help those transitioning into the American workforce. I have been blessed to participate in this process.
A few months back, I was asked to participate in one of the mock interview sessions and found it completely eye opening. I never would have realized the impact on me by helping refugees prepare for their first interview. Each engagement is a treasured experience.
During the last few months, I have seen through refugees' eyes the stress they must feel in preparing for a job interview where everything is NEW...a new country, a new language, and a new way to even get to work.
I have shaken the hand of parents in the beginning of an interview, and felt the weight of the world on their shoulders to provide for their children. I have listened to the interview question answers filled with hope from young adults looking for new opportunities to reach their dreams.
I have provided feedback and encouragement to build the refugees' self-confidence in hopes of relieving their anxiety. However long our prep interview lasts, so much is exchanged that carries far beyond that meeting for both the interviewer and interviewee.
For the refugee, hopefully, we have taught the American interview process: Remember to smile when you see the interviewer, shake the interviewer's hand, look confidently in their eye, ask follow up questions, and remember everyone gets nervous...it will be ok.
We try to reassure them: Refugees before you have done it, and taken the next step, have a job, found security, are providing for their family, and are not just surviving, but thriving.
For the volunteer, we see more clearly that there is so much to be grateful for and so many more things we take for granted.
We admire the courage it must have taken to come to America, to reach out for help, and step out on a limb and trust Catholic Charities. Behind the cultural, religious, and demographic differences, we are all looking for hope, for someone to give us a chance, and the faith in ourselves and beyond ourselves to make a difference.
Catholic Charities is helping to make that difference.