Cultural Ambassadors Connectors program has launched!

CA Logo FINALOn the 16th of October, Global Detroit kicked off its new Cultural Ambassadors Connector program with our partner, Upwardly Global. The program takes its cues from Ann Arbor SPARK’s Cultural Ambassadors program, the Halifax Connectors program, and the St. Louis Mosaic Connectors program. The Halifax Connectors program, in particular, served as a model for our connectors program because the program brokers meetings between internationals and established business leaders for a one time meeting where the connector answers questions, gives job-seeking advice, and offers to provide them with three contacts from their networks. The Global Detroit Cultural Ambassadors and these model programs have the goal of retaining talent in their cities by helping them build a personal network in the industry.

The act of immigrating takes tremendous resources and energy, requiring an individual or family to muster up all of its resources and resourcefulness. International students, immigrants, and refugees are often among some of the world’s most talented, resourced, and connected people. Their presence can be a tremendous catalyst to the economic development opportunities for a U.S. metropolitan region. Unfortunately, one of the most significant challenges that new international talent faces to maximizing their impact on economic growth is their lack of the natural networks that innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals rely upon to be successful.

Penetrating business and professional communities can be challenging for emerging talent and professionals new to the region. International students and immigrant professionals face additional cultural and social barriers to fully entering the workforce. The result is an underutilized, yet qualified talent pool which often must leave the region to find work elsewhere.

To help accelerate the development of these business and professional networks a number of economic development initiatives have sought to create so-called connector programs such as the Global Detroit Cultural Ambassadors program. The October 26 breakfast provided a more detailed overview of the program requirements expectations and helped train our first ten volunteer Connectors. Recognizing the hyper-intensive time demands on successful professionals, many of these programs forego the traditional, full-blown mentoring program, in favor of a less formal and less time-demanding connector program that asks for a smaller up-front commitment from volunteers and participants. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to recruit additional Connector volunteers and currently have over two dozen additional Upwardly Global graduates–work authorized skilled immigrants and refugees–who are seeking to build their professional networks in Metro Detroit.

Talent needs to feel valued, noticed, and cultivated. People stay where they feel welcomed and connected. We look forward to reporting back on the program as it evolves. With 274,000 stems jobs to fill by 2018 in Michigan and with one-fourth of international students studying STEM fields, we know that cultural and language barriers, exist. If you are in a STEM field, Engineering, Finance, Health, or Information Technology, know that you are a vital resource in the development of Michigan and we invite you to take the time to sit with an Upwardly Global student this year for a one hour coffee and connect to the future of our communities and our cities.

Contact GDCulturalAmbassador@gmail.com with program inquiries.

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