When refugees arrive in Utah, one of our top priorities at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City is to support individuals in their job search, so that they can start living independently. The IRC’s employment services team works to support adults enrolled in the early employment program to prepare for and secure their first job in the U.S. within the first three to six months post-arrival.  They do this by building employer partnerships, hosting resume-building workshops, organizing interviews for clients, and much more.  

Recently, the employment team worked on securing a job for Brou, a woman who resettled to Utah in April from the Ivory Coast. Russel Mbaya, employment specialist, worked on Brou’s case and assured her that he would find her a job. He started by helping her apply to different companies and took her to every one of her job interviews. At each interview, Russel interpreted for her. “It really means a lot to me that I get to be there for people,” said Russel, “I get to be a part of their path to being self-sufficient.” 

Brou recently started her first job at a local Hyatt hotel as a room attendant. “I am so thankful that the IRC was able to help me find my job,” said Brou, “I haven’t achieved my goals yet in the United States, but I know that this is a good start.” Brou has family still living on the Ivory Coast in Africa, and she hopes that she can start building her life in the United States so that they can come live comfortably with her. “I want to work for them today so that I can support them for a better tomorrow,” said Brou when asked about the impact her job has had on her family.  

Finding a job early on in the resettlement process gives more freedom and opportunities for refugees settling in Utah. It provides individuals peace of mind and the ability for people to begin exploring their hopes and dreams for their new lives in the United States. For Brou, a big part of her dream is to reunite with her family and start building their life in Utah. Brou’s job has been a great opportunity for her to start her career off. She shared how much she enjoyed looking forward to working at the hotel, and how exciting her work has been for her.   

The IRC focuses efforts to support those enrolled in the early employment program to reach self-sufficiency by their 240th day after arrival. The employment team restructured its programming in 2021 and has seen a rapid increase in successful job placements over the past two years. They were able to achieve an increase of 47% in self-sufficiency from 2022 to 2023! By the end of September, the team hopes to increase this further by 5%, bringing the self-sufficiency rate of our clients up to 75%!  

The employment team has several partners like the Hyatt, who help employ refugees resettling to the state of Utah. However, there is always a need for more community connections, to find better jobs that suit the many individuals that we serve. Many people who come to the United States as refugees or immigrants are more likely to experience poverty and are limited to greater opportunities for success if they do not find employment quickly after resettling.  

If you are an employer or support employment decisions at your workplace, consider emailing us at [email protected] to be connected to our employment team. If you’d like to learn more about partnering with the IRC in Salt Lake City, visit our Partner Engagement Hub »