Imagine every decision you make being impacted by your immigration status. For Maneesha Mukhi ’03, this was her reality.
That changed the moment she got her green card. She had just earned her MBA at the University of Chicago and was working in consulting when she received the green light on her dreams: social entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurship is about finding a problem you want to solve, because that is what drives entrepreneurs: an obsession to solve a problem,” Mukhi explained. “In my case, it was the immigration system. It is really frustrating and can feel like a hopeless situation. I can’t fix that system, so I focus on improving access to immigration resources and empowering immigrants along their journeys.”
Maneesha Mukhi ’03
She founded ImmiGo (now Ask Ellis)in 2016, a service company that connects individuals and businesses to experienced immigration lawyers, provides immigration insights, and helps people secure the appropriate visa for their situation at an affordable cost.
She’s found the type of career success typical for our alumni, who are able to connect their personal passions with a professional path, and are given the confidence and skills to pursue it as students.
Mukhi understands the complexities of the immigration process from her own experience as an international student. She grew up in six different countries—including India, Switzerland, and Korea—and knew from an early age that she wanted to study and live in the United States.
“Being an immigrant drove so many of my choices while I was here,” Mukhi stated. What she studied, where she worked, how she got involved in her community—all of it was determined by what would help her navigate the immigration process once she graduated.
“I knew once I graduated, it wouldn’t be easy to stay.”
An economics and organization and management studies double major and French minor, Mukhi pursued activities that would give her an edge in the job market and took advantage of the Gettysburg network to find competitive internship opportunities.
“I needed to make myself as employable as possible, and that meant having strong internships,” Mukhi explained. “It’s a lot harder when you need visa sponsorship, but those internships really did help me get my first job.”
Her experience elevates the dedication of our active and global alumni network, who are just as committed as the College is to preparing our students lifelong success.
Mukhi’s early career includes stints at banks, investment firms, and the travel company Orbitz, where she worked while pursuing her MBA in economics, marketing management, and strategic management part time.
“I went in a completely different direction with my career once I received my green card,” Mukhi said. She quit her job in consulting, and after a brief stint at a nonprofit, she was finally able to explore entrepreneurship without the fear of losing her visa sponsorship.
“I was always drawn to helping people and wanted to help the immigrant community. There is anxiety in every immigration story; whether you are a student, a start-up, a scientist or just in love, staying in the U.S. is incredibly difficult. But there are ways to make it work, and that’s what I focus on with ImmiGo.”
For Mukhi and many of our Gettysburg graduates, that’s because a Gettysburg education is a transformative experience that creates actively engaged and informed global citizens who continuously strive to have a positive impact in their communities. More often than not, it’s the stories of the individuals she has been able to help that emphasizes the value of her work.
“The start-up experience is a rollercoaster. Some days you feel great about your work and other days are bumpier,” Mukhi said. “The numbers are small when you are an early stage startup—that’s just the nature of the work—but each number represents someone’s anxiety that has been alleviated and a hope or dream made possible.”
Despite the small numbers, she is committed to growing the company’s presence in the New York City area and perfecting their services before scaling it across the United States. And while it is her dream to make navigating the immigration process a bit easier for everyone involved, she remains hopeful the recent attention to immigration will bring much needed change to the system.
“Immigration to the United States has always been difficult, but it has become even more so in the past few years,” Mukhi said. “These conversations have brought issues to light that have always existed, but might have missed people’s radar. I am also realistic; I know what we are up against. Change is difficult, but I’m hoping the issues that have persisted over the 18 years it will have taken me to become a citizen will resolve at some point.”
Learn more about student opportunities to explore entrepreneurship—and opportunities for parent or alumni volunteers—through the Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Initiative.