When Esther Liu recently moved to Michigan to be with her husband, she wasn’t sure where she would find work.  But then her husband forwarded information promoting a conference titled “Michigan’s Global Future” being held at MSU, so she attended with the promise that she would learn how she, as an international student, could best find a job in Michigan.  At that conference, Esther met Dano Bennett, director at Vectorform, a world class design firm with offices in Seattle, Detroit, New York, Munich, Germany, and Hyderabad, India. She started her job with Vectorform on Nov. 18.

This is but one success story of the Global Talent Retention Initiative of Michigan, a program dedicated to retaining top international talent in Michigan to drive economic development, and the only known program in the United States of its kind.

Funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and a grant from the New Economy Initiative of Michigan (NEI) and housed in the University Research Corridor (URC), the Global Talent Retention Initiative of Michigan (GTRI) is a collaboration between the Global Michigan Initiative, Global Detroit, Michigan universities, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Michigan’s economic development agencies, ethnic chambers and professional organizations throughout Michigan.

GTRI is a product of the Global Detroit Study about the impact of immigrant talent on the region’s economy. Studies have shown that immigrants disproportionately contribute to economic growth, employment and wage gains. In addition, more than 50 percent of the doctoral degrees and as many as 40 percent of the master’s degrees awarded annually in the U.S. in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics go to international students.  Since IT and engineering are the fastest growing industries, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates for high-level tech positions if international students are not considered for an employer’s applicant pool.

For more statistics and information regarding the impact of international student retention in Michigan, download GTRI’s report “International Talent Retention in Michigan: A Pathway to National Competitiveness.”

The goal of GTRI is to provide international students and Michigan employers with training and resources on relevant immigration regulations, finding a job and working in Michigan, and the cross-cultural issues that both employers and international applicants may experience during the hiring process.

One way this is accomplished is through the Global Opportunity Employer program, also known as GOemployer.  Companies such as Vectorform that are interested in providing internships and employment to international students become a GOemployer and receive free assistance in their candidate search whether they already offer these opportunities or are interested in starting.

GTRI also partners with more than 20 of Michigan’s public and private universities to hold Career Development conferences for international students, such as the one Esther Liu attended. GTRI has conducted two of these regional conferences this year, one at Michigan State University and one at Wayne State University, and has plans to conduct three more in the coming months at the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University and Grand Valley State University, assisting students with resume building, interviewing skills and more.

International students such as Liu say they appreciate the GTRI’s help in finding a job in Michigan.

“I just want to thank you for taking the initiative and bridging the gap between international students and Michigan employers,” Liu said. “Most of all, you bring hope to us who feel lost in the job search.”

To find out more about GTRI of Michigan and its programs aimed at boosting economic development by retaining top international talent in Michigan, view this video highlighting our work, or visit our website at www.MiGTRI.org.