When Linda Assadian came back to the United States three years ago, she had 30 moves behind her over the previous 18 years. Her family had lived in five countries, sometimes conducting housing searches on their way to the airport.
Assadian knows the anxiety involved in relocation. She’s now helping newly recruited employees at UC Davis minimize the stress through her position as director of the Capital Resource Network.
Capital Resource Network provides transition help for a fee paid by the new hires’ departments. Assadian and her staff of two offer assistance with housing, dual-career support for spouses and partners, local resources such as schools and health care information, and many more specialized services.
“The kinds of things we do for people is bespoke to them,” said Assadian. “It’s absolutely based on the client’s priorities.”
Such a program also benefits the university by enhancing recruitment and encouraging long-term retention. By making connections and answering questions, CRN removes some of the unknown that comes with moving and aims to make UC Davis a more competitive employer. CRN has the added asset of promoting diversity. The team regularly provides resources to clients with diverse needs, such as international, LGBTQIA and STEM-affiliated groups.
The program was originally funded by a supplemental ADVANCE grant from the National Science Foundation, and is hosted by the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. The program is 31 percent self-supported from the fee-for-service model, and the remaining budget comes from the Office of the Provost.
1-of-a-kind concierge program
The pilot for what would become CRN began in 2015. The team built its resources, including creating an advisory council of business leaders in the region who gave feedback on the model.
“We didn’t want to do this in a bubble; we wanted the feedback from the advisory council on how this program would look,” Assadian said.
With the connections of this network, the program now offers its full referral services for a $3,000 program fee for six months or up to 20 hours of service. (External clients pay $4,000.) Initial consultations are also available, starting at $200 for a one-hour orientation. And through March, these consultations — conducted via phone, video conferencing or in-person — are being offered for free.
CRN clients have included a celebrity hairstylist, a nuclear physicist and a blind, avid skier. The team’s specialized services include everything from helping secure housing rentals and identifying networking opportunities to locating pharmacies for hard-to-find medications and getting appointments at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
So far, Assadian estimates CRN has consulted with about 109 short-listed candidates and then extensively worked with about 110 recruited employees. Also, 50 clients have received dual-career support, of which 52 percent already have received employment.
Assadian said she’d like to grow the program into the best practice recruitment standard at UC Davis.
“I want this red-carpet recruitment program institutionalized as the face of UC Davis,” she said.
A five-star review
Juan Diego Díaz and his wife, Yerina Rock, arrived in Davis on Nov. 30. Díaz has just started as an assistant professor and ethnomusicologist in the Department of Music. They spent the previous year in London, where Díaz was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Essex.
Their move to Davis, they knew, would be facilitated by the team at the Capital Resource Network.
In fact, CRN’s job started well before the couple arrived, as the team helped to secure housing. Via Skype, the duo was able to “tour” an apartment and ask questions of the property manager. CRN simplified the leasing process and made sure the deposit was received.
“Everything was in place by the time we got here,” said Rock. “Talking with others, we have realized how much grief and stress that saved us.”
Additional support included helping to navigate visa requirements and offering resources for driver’s education and licensing.
CRN extends its services to helping build community because the university recognizes that moving can be socially isolating, said Assadian. For Díaz and Rock, that meant sending a letter of introduction to their new neighbors and, with their permission, setting up a meet and greet in their new apartment.
“We’ve felt very looked after,” said Díaz.
Going forward, Rock, who is a trained social anthropologist, is at a career crossroads. Under the terms of her visa, she is unable to work until residency is established in one year. She will use the time to explore her options and develop new passions. And with the help of CRN, she already has new leads — classes, trainings and yoga studios — to investigate.
“We’ve been very keen to find a place where we could create more stable roots and settle down,” Rock said.
Added Díaz, “We are very happy to be here.”