News & Stories


Inspiring Women: Starting a Professional in the UK

Data shows that female migrants are more vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment than their male counterparts (Migration Data Portal, 2020), so with International Women’s Day coming up on the 8th March, MiFriendly Cities think it’s important to celebrate the inspirational stories of migrant and refugee women. In this article, ‘Naomi’ discusses how a 4-week work placement at MiFriendly Cities partner Interserve has impacted her life.

How did you get involved with MiFriendly Cities?

During a “Refugee Week” event at Birmingham Library I came across the MiFriendly Cities table where I took a leaflet to get some more information, this explained what MiFriendly Cities was about and I was interested to know more.

What were you doing prior to joining the project?

Since I relocated in Birmingham, I was working with an agency as a carer/support worker, while searching for professional jobs.

What barriers have you faced as a migrant in the UK?

It is very difficult to get a job even if you have the right qualifications because most places want you to have UK work experience.

When it comes to interviews you get nervous as English is not your first language and this can affect your confidence. You may have the knowledge but presenting it can sometimes be difficult as you feel like it’s not being presented in the best way due to this.

How has the work placement you secured through the project helped you to overcome any barriers?

Having someone to support, reassure and mentor you improves your confidence and helps to remind you that you are competent.

What have you enjoyed?

Going back to the work environment after having a career break for a long period brought joy and purpose back to my life. I really enjoyed thinking technically and getting back into a field I enjoy so much.

I have also enjoyed feeling appreciated by my colleagues for my contribution.

What other support would you like to see in the city for migrants?

More opportunities like this where companies take a chance on diverse workers and give us an opportunity to prove ourselves in the workplace without any barriers.

During her work placement, Naomi received coaching and had a ‘Buddy’ within her team for any added support she may require or to go to with any questions.

Coaching session focused on her personality type and how she was working within the team and within a business, improving her employability.

Both managers and Naomi noticed a difference in her abilities, with Naomi saying “I have learnt new skills, how to work in a team and with other teams. I had good support during all the time of my work placement. I feel better and more confident than before”.

Due to her great work, Naomi has since received a paid role at Interserve. The MiFriendly Cities team hope that this is just the beginning of a journey where migrants become the businessmen and women of tomorrow. A tomorrow where employers not only recognise, but embrace, the benefits of a diverse workplace and the range of innovations it can help to produce.

Through the MiFriendly Cities project, Interserve offer work placement opportunities for IT Technicians, IT Analysts, IT Infrastructure Technicians and Customer Service Operations.

Potential participants must

  • Have a relevant qualification (UK or non-UK) in the role they wish to be considered for
  • Have at least 5 years’ experience in a role
  • Ideally have ESOL Level 2 Business English, but for certain roles a minimum of Level 1 may be appropriate
  • Have competent IT Skills

If you would like to secure a work placement at Interserve, and you meet the eligibility criteria listed above, please email  so that we can refer you to one of our employment brokers.

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European Union & Urban Innovative Actions

This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.