A new language, cultural differences, or an invalid diploma. For people with a refugee background, finding a new job remains a challenge. Offering concrete opportunities can help enormously during this transition. Microsoft and ABN AMRO offer these opportunities and support by combining training for frequently requested IT roles with follow-up in a paid job at the bank. This long-term sustainable success is a win-win situation for everyone involved. In this blog, Microsoft Azure Academy graduates Omar and Ali share their experiences.
Omar was born in Abu Dhabi but lived most of his life in Yemen. He came to the Netherlands in 2019 and wanted to continue his software engineering skills and build a life and career in his new country. Omar’s interest in IT started at a young age. “I like how you always have to learn something new to solve the puzzle, that really motivates me.”
Azure Academy graduate Ali was born in Turkey. Like Omar, he already had experience in IT as a database administrator in Turkey. After arriving in the Netherlands in 2019, he wanted to build on his existing skills. When a friend in a Dutch asylum seekers’ centre told him about the Azure Academy, he was immediately interested. “When I arrived in the Netherlands, I felt quite alone without a job, home or network. I knew I wanted to work as quickly as possible to build my own livelihood and integrate into my new country,” says Ali.
The Azure Academy was his chance to do this. “Every organization is moving to the cloud. I wanted to learn more about these technologies,” Ali explains. “This IT and soft skills training was fully paid for and helped me update my cloud/data/IT skills and certifications. As a result, I got a paid job at ABN AMRO in a great team.”
After some IQ and personality tests, Omar and Ali participated in the Azure Academy program. In 16 weeks, they were trained as Azure data engineers. Ali reflects on what he has learned during one of his projects. “Looking back on the program, our group presentation was the highlight of my time at Azure Academy. With Power BI, we showed the correlation between a country’s gross domestic product, the level of health care, and the average level of education.”
“One of the most enjoyable parts of the Azure Academy was the ability to try and test everything,” Omar says. He is also happy with the networks you build during your training and enjoyed combining the curriculum with self-study. “I would recommend it to anyone because it teaches you about real-world problems.” The combination of expanding IT skills and learning soft skills in this program was the crucial edge that both Omar and Ali needed.
After their training at Azure Academy, both Omar and Ali found a job at ABN AMRO. Ali works as a Data & Development Engineer at a Forensic Data Disclosure team. “I mainly help my team with the Azure cloud environment and with database management. I really enjoy my job and feel like I’m making a difference in the company.”
As an IT engineer, Omar ensures that the bank’s infrastructure is reliable and stable. He likes to find the right solution for every problem. “When we get a new requirement, we pitch our own ideas to improve the platform or solve the problem in a different way. And this is really the way I like to do it.”
By sharing their experiences, Ali and Omar also contribute to improving the cooperation between Microsoft and ABN AMRO. For example, the Azure Academy curriculum now offers courses on Scrum and Agile principles. Their feedback is essential to continue to improve this program. In this way we can offer the best solutions and training guidelines for future trainees.
Speaking of their feedback, both gentlemen are happy that they were able to work at ABN AMRO after graduating from the Azure Academy. “I like that you can talk to anyone in the organization without feeling like there’s a difference in hierarchy,” Omar says. Ali shares this experience. “When I started at ABN AMRO, everyone treated me as an equal.”
For Ali, Azure Academy was a springboard to his new life. “It’s a great opportunity for refugees. Now I have a job and I’m learning new things every day.” Omar is also very happy at the bank. “My work is really challenging and that makes it fun. My motto: don’t rest until you’ve beaten the best.”