The story of Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) – a network of volunteer-run organizations serving immigrant professionals
Imagine a professional looking to get their foot in the door or their next gig or a promotion or maybe switch a career and start a new one. Where would this person start? Where would they go to get information and help to map out a plan? Friends, family, colleagues, former classmates, neighbours are examples of people who can help with advice and connect them to the right people and opportunities. That’s networking in a nutshell.
What if instead of an individual there is an organization that is looking to expand its outreach and find new connections? How would that organization do it?
In 2009, TRIEC conducted an environmental scan to find and learn about immigrant professional associations: organizations run by and for immigrants in the GTA that supported their members in achieving their employment goals. We also wanted to know in what ways TRIEC could support these associations to do what they do better as well as help them connect to other key stakeholders and help those stakeholders connect to them.
That scan turned up over 70 immigrant professional associations across the city. Some were ethno-specific, some were profession specific, and some were both. Most were working very independently and few knew about the others around the city doing similar work. And while some of our employer, community services and government partners knew about some of the groups, few really had a picture of the array of groups active around the GTA.
The first time we brought them together to meet and greet was in February 2010. One of the most important things we heard from leaders of those networks was how isolated many of them felt in the work they were doing, and how energizing and useful it was to meet others, share experiences, and begin to see themselves as part of a much bigger community.
And that’s how the idea of a Professional Immigrant Network (PINs) came to life. Our hope was that the PINs community would continue to evolve into a vibrant network with multiple hubs, where organizations connect and collaborate directly, with TRIEC also facilitating connections and fostering collaboration when necessary.
A few years later and the PINs community continues to grow and thrive. PINs has helped accelerate movement from ideas to action. It has enabled organizations to amplify their efforts to do more, to have greater impact by leveraging existing assets and by connecting them with each other, and to have a stronger immigrant voice.
This article was originally posted as a blog by TRIEC Director of Immigrant Employment Initiatives Racquel Sevilla on LinkedIN.