JFS securing jobs, futures for Seattle-area refugees

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SEATTLE -- Tens of thousands of refugees come to America each year looking for a brighter future. But for some of them, it's becoming more difficult to find jobs that fit their skill set.

Organizations like Jewish Family Service in Seattle are seeing more refugees with college degrees coming into the country. When they get here, it's difficult for them to find professional jobs, according to JFS. That's where a new JFS program comes in.

For Iraqi refugee Abdulnaser Alnaroof, life in America hasn't been exactly one for which he hoped.

"When I try to find a job, they don't accept it," said Alnaroof. "I don't know why."

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Alnaroof, a civil engineer with 13 years of experience, has been working in maintenance since arriving to the United States in 2012. Some cultural barriers have held him back, but what is mostly keeping him from appropriate work is a lack of networking. Many refugees find it's not what you know but who you know.

A new program at Jewish Family Service has empowered volunteers to work with refugees -- doctors, lawyers, accountants and teachers, just to name a few.

The refugees are helped with writing resumes, learning interview techniques and creating online profiles. They are also connected to American professional mentors in their fields.

"We reach out on a very personal level to potential mentors," volunteer Arthur Shwab said.

Shwab knows firsthand how beneficial a mentorship can be for refugees.

"I remember very well my father's experience trying to re-enter the professional world here," said Shwab. "My father never ended up being an engineer in the U.S. He took a different path in the end."

There's hope though for the first pilot class of 15 students now underway. The program launched in March.

To learn more about the service and how to become a professional mentor,click here.