From 2010 to 2014, new immigration plus births to immigrants added 8.3 million residents to the country, equal to 87% of total U.S. population growth within these four years. In 2014, there were 42.4 million immigrants (legal and illegal) in the United States, with about 1/3 of adult immigrants holding a Bachelor’s degree.
Statistically speaking, immigrants make significant progress the longer they live in the country- not only are they fluent in other languages, but 27% of immigrants are physicians and surgeons, 26% are computer programmers and developers, and 12% are entrepreneurs.
27-year-old immigrant Shinjini Das is an author and the founder and CEO of The Das Media Group. Das is more than a digital marketer and millennial influencer, she is an advocate for gender and racial equality with the U.S. Department of State.
Das (also known as The Go-Getter Girl!) focuses on the scale of social entrepreneurship and digital entrepreneurship in developing economies, and has moderated panels at the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters. She has also been invited by The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center to share seed-stage digital venture growth, monetization, and scale strategies. She prides herself on remaining true to her heritage, regardless of the audience to which she is presenting.
Below she reflects on immigrant professionals in the workplace:
Christine Michel Carter: As an immigrant professional in America, what’s the toughest obstacle you overcame in the workplace?
Shinjini Das: Fitting in with American culture seems like such a trite obstacle, but for me it was definitely the hardest. I didn’t think I belonged at first. Growing up, there was a lot I didn’t know about American culture. I had barely heard of the NFL and American TV shows, but this is what people talked about during lunch and I felt left out. Over time, I learned to bring my unique sense of humor, female nurturing perspective, and confidence to the table as an Indian-American woman in technology.
Carter: As America’s workforce becomes increasingly more diverse, how do you believe immigrants can bring their authentic selves to work?
Das: We should mesh our “family-first” culture, community-oriented mindsets, and drive to work very hard to build new legacies in a new country with the traditional American core values of innovation, exploration, and impact. Together, we can scale growth at work with a close-knit family feel.
Carter: As a younger generation of immigrants enter the workforce, how can generation Z balance this with learning new professional skills within an organization?
Das: Connectivity and cultural empathy matter so much to this generation. They have an innate self-awareness and understanding of how other cultures operate, because they grew up in such a hyper-connected digital age. Generation Z has a “people first, business second” mentality, most likely because they possess a unique empathy for ethnic people’s lack of privilege struggles. I have no doubt they’ll quickly grasp ways of working, bring multi-dimensional solutions and transform business environments.
Carter: Boston Consulting Group has recently quantified the success of businesses with a diverse leadership team. How do you feel immigrants’ diversity of thought leads to business growth?
Das: I find that immigrants can establish clear correlations between their cultural upbringing, niche social problems, and their desire to democratize access to opportunity. As a result, their business solutions tend to be scalable, multi-dimensional and multi-edged.