First Jobs in America, Always Worth Celebrating


Employment Specialist Nikeshia poses with new arrival Tamrat after just returning to the office with their first official job offer in the US.

Tamrat arrived in the US after fleeing persecution in Ethiopia in December of 2012. With a background in teaching and an innate desire to contribute, Tamrat was ready and willing to learn, volunteer and work anywhere that would take him. He attended cultural orientation classes, English classes, and started driving lessons soon after arrival. In his free time he often came to the office asking if there was anything he could do to help, just to keep his mind busy.

His Employment Specialist, Nikeshia Womack, is also new to our program. She joined during the high season this fall and Tamrat is one of the first cases she took on as her own. Together they applied for job after job and spent hours practicing for interview questions and taking online job application questionnaires. They finally got a bite when a notoriously difficult to break into large American company called back for an interview. Yesterday they studied together in our conference room, practicing everything from how do you know when it’s okay to sit down at an interview to what to say when they ask you about your weaknesses or your experiences with conflict. Today Tamrat arrived at our office early, dressed sharply in a dark suit, feeling anxious and unsure. Our staff all wished him good luck but reminded him that it often takes many interviews in the US before finally getting a job. As he left, we worried about how deflated he would feel when he saw that despite all his hard work, he was just one of many vying for the same entry level position.

A couple of hours later, Nikeshia and Tamrat returned with wide smiles on their faces. He was hired on the spot! Our staff all gathered to shake his hand and offer high fives. He thanked us and his newly minted employment specialist and looked embarrassed and proud all at once. Though his first job will not utilize his advanced degrees and background in teaching, Tamrat is thrilled to be given the opportunity to work, the chance to contribute and to support himself. The right to work is one that has been stripped from most refugees in their paths to freedom. Now employed, Tamrat will have a focus to his days and will be able to take over his household expenses. With careful spending, he’ll try to save a bit so that when his wife joins him later she will have a stable home to arrive in.

Though the CWS Employment team places over 100 refugees in jobs each year – the sense of celebration never fades. Every placement is a triumphant first step down a long road to a new life. We are so proud of Tamrat and of all of our other clients putting themselves out their every day to get a job – any job – and who work hard to keep it.

One thought on “First Jobs in America, Always Worth Celebrating

  1. What a sweet story! These are the moments we crave in the world of refugee resettlement. Nikeshia, its not an easy job at all but your reward is so great! Tamrat, may you use this opportunity to display your gifts and sense of resilience. Way to go CWS Greensboro! As we all know, each victory is a shared one. I hope this one keeps your team energized this year. Blessings!!!

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