Newcomers in Germany who bring professional education and experience in a certain area usually have difficulties to find a job that fits their profile. This has different reasons: amount of time needed to learn German, varying occupational profiles and requirements, unrecognized certificates and many more. For most of these issues there are public or civil society organizations that offer advice and assistance.
However, we experience in our daily work that the problem is more fundamental. People don’t find jobs according to their professional background if they don’t know anyone in their field or have access to institutions, companies, events etc. That situation makes it very hard to even have the chance of gaining a first relevant practical experience in Germany. In sum: Social capital has a significant effect on professional integration and you need contacts to locals to build it.
In our professional mentoring program we connect locals and newcomers of similar professional background. During a mentoring phase lasting a few months the tandems work on goals that they have defined themselves. We prepare them for this phase through training and team-building. The tandems usually meet once every one to two weeks. We do not set any goals for the participants because every situation that a tandem starts off with is different. However, we support the goal-setting process. In our experience it is important that the goals are ambitious enough and at the same time not overwhelming.
Some examples for goals are:
-Find five interesting companies and send an unsolicited application
-Find a suitable course for further professional education
-Practice professional vocabulary together
-Create a convincing profile on LinkedIn/XING and use it to find an internship
SINGA accompanies the mentoring process also by giving the participants the opportunity to regularly meet, exchange and support each other. For us, the mentoring program is a learning experience for all participants and it is also meant to build networks that newcomers and locals would probably otherwise never have.
So far we have matched 86 couples from a variety of professional fields. The success stories are as different as the goals the tandems have set themselves. More than 95% of the participants felt that the program supports their professional orientation. That is also reflected in an equally high readiness to recommend the program to others. Around two thirds of the newcomers received a job or internship offer during the mentoring phase. A similar amount of participants left the mentoring program with a clear plan for their further professional training. Locals have provided us with equally good feedback. In the beginning of the program, many see themselves in a giving role (despite our training) and are surprised in the end of how much they managed to take out of the experience for themselves. Moreover, most of the locals are ready to build a mentoring-relationship a second time.
SINGA is the friend every newcomer needs. SINGA allowed me to get to know the new society better. The Professional Mentoring program has allowed me to find a job. Thank you SINGA for being there.