Empowering Diversity and Opportunity: The Upward Mobility Program’s Impact on the Mobility Industry

Alexa Schlosser - Sep 05 2023
Published in: Global Workforce
| Updated Sep 05 2023
Delving into the program’s mission, its transformative journey over the years, and its aspirations for the future. 

 In an age where diversity and inclusion have become central tenets of success for industries worldwide, the Upward Mobility program is boldly stepping forward as a beacon of change within the mobility sector. In an interview with Andrew Walker, former Worldwide ERC® Board chair and the co-chair of the program, we delve into the program’s mission, its transformative journey over the years, and its aspirations for the future. 

A Vision for Change 

Upward Mobility is on a mission to redefine the mobility industry by harnessing the power of diversity and providing invaluable career opportunities for students of color. Recognizing the importance of diverse talent and the need to bridge the gap between education and industry, the program is dedicated to fostering a pipeline of capable, motivated students through internships, enriching the industry with new perspectives, ideas, and experiences. 

This vision is further strengthened by the program’s commitment to addressing the pervasive lack of access to formative work experiences for students of color, ultimately perpetuating inequality. By creating tailored opportunities for these students, the Upward Mobility program levels the playing field and imparts a positive impact on their ongoing career success.

Justin Pernell, a Drew University student from Plainfield, New Jersey, was a relocation home lending intern with US Bank. Here he is visiting the office in St. Louis. 

A Year of Achievement 

The program’s second year has been a resounding success, placing 11 interns within eight different mobility companies. While the aspiration of placing 25 interns was slightly missed, the quality and impact of the placements were notable. Importantly, the program expanded its outreach by partnering with Drew University and Fisk University in addition to its existing partnerships with Cleveland State University and the University of Colorado Denver. 

The program’s educational and networking series further enriched the interns’ experiences by providing deep insights into the mobility industry and fostering valuable relationships. Support from the Foundation for Workforce Mobility, which funded mobility stipends to offset housing costs, is a crucial step toward making the program even more attractive to potential applicants. 

Shannon Brown, chair of the Foundation for Workforce Mobility, says, “The mission of the Foundation for Workforce Mobility is to inspire employee relocation professionals to impact change by supporting families in need. Upward Mobility is actively living and breathing our mission.”


Charlyse Young, a student at County College of Morris in New Jersey, interned with Cartus. 

Learning from the Past 

Reflecting on the program’s evolution, Walker acknowledges the challenges faced in the inaugural year, particularly in sourcing students where the internships were located. The geographical disconnect between students and job opportunities prompted a strategic shift in Year 2, allowing host companies to self-source applicants locally. This adaptive approach yielded positive results, highlighting the importance of flexibility in achieving program goals. 

Driving Impact on Future Careers 

The Upward Mobility program has the potential to catalyze profound change in the career trajectories of its participants. By providing hands-on experience, industry knowledge, and networking opportunities, the program equips students with skills and confidence that enhance their post-college employability. Research underscores that internships significantly impact earning potential and job placement rates, and the program’s organizers are actively leveraging these insights to benefit the talented students of color they serve. 

Louis Lizano (pictured right), from Summit, New Jersey, was a business process analyst with Weichert Workforce Mobility. Here he is in a meeting with two Weichert colleagues. 

Nurturing Industry Insight and Readiness 

The program’s commitment to preparing interns for their mobility industry internships is evident through its comprehensive training approach. From job readiness classes to industry-specific sessions like “Mobility 101” and “Global Mobility Trends,” interns receive a well-rounded education that not only helps them excel during their internships but also sets them on a path to excel in their future careers. The long-term plan includes year-round campus events to elevate industry awareness and participation. 

Forging Collaborative Pathways 

Collaboration is at the heart of Upward Mobility’s success. Building partnerships with companies in the mobility sector is a shared endeavor led by the program’s steering committee, which includes Worldwide ERC. Walker, alongside industry professionals, spearheads efforts to raise awareness of the program and encourage participation from organizations. The program’s inclusive approach invites industry executives to information sessions, fostering engagement and support. 

Measuring Impact and Future Aspirations 

While the program currently measures its success by the number of interns placed, the true test lies in the intern-to-employee conversion rate. Though the program has yet to see permanent hires within the industry, promising signs, such as interns continuing to work part-time with their host companies during the school year, bode well for the future. 

Looking ahead, the program aims to scale its reach, establish deeper bonds with anchor schools, and witness former interns rise to leadership roles within the industry. The program’s ripple effect is undeniable, as the transformation it brings to individual lives and the mobility industry continues to grow. 

Sarah Pedraza, a University of Colorado Denver student from Aurora, Colorado, interned with Graebel in Denver. 

Inclusive Excellence in Motion 

Upward Mobility stands as a testament to the industry’s commitment to progress and inclusion. By empowering students of color with tangible opportunities and invaluable experiences, the program showcases the immense potential of diversity within the mobility sector. As the program continues to evolve, it not only elevates individual careers but also reshapes the mobility industry’s landscape for the better. Through dedicated partnerships, thoughtful preparation, and a clear vision for change, the Upward Mobility program is fostering a brighter future for all. 

Intern Perspectives 

“Working with GO opened my eyes to incredible opportunities with people and the industry as a whole. Joining the Upward Mobility Zoom meeting and hearing how the industry works was a great experience. I developed a nice bond between my colleagues and the CEO; we all worked as a team and everyone helped each other. Participating in exclusive projects was amazing and unforgettable.” —Jaylin Eaves, GO Destination Services Intern 

“It really exposed what it meant to relocate families because it is not just about helping them find a new home. Weichert has showed me that a lot more than finding a new home goes into relocation, especially if we are talking about foreign relocation where the family would need help with language, culture, finding appropriate schooling, dealing with taxes, and more. My co-workers at Weichert have been helpful in not only explaining their work but also being open to questions and helping me whenever I need it.” —Louis Lizano, Weichert Intern 

“As an intern who knew nothing about the global mobility industry, my experience at Aires has allowed me to grow as a young professional and given me an unexpected opportunity. During my time, I have enhanced my skills in teamwork, creative problem-solving, and personal responsibility. The global mobility industry is also an unknown helper in helping relocate multiple families across the world for their employment. As an immigrant, I find this work necessary because of how complicated and undervalued it is. Due to these multiple opportunities, I also have experience in leading a team in a time of crisis, which I have not had professionally done before. The sessions from the Upward Mobility program have also increased my knowledge of personal branding and how to adapt to corporate culture.” —Andrea Quiroz, Aires Intern