How a trained Zoologist became a developer at Check24 in Germany

Ahmed is a software engineer coming from Egypt, He is currently working at Check24 in Germany. He was going through a series of learning, teaching, and practicing his skills and after graduating from our boot camp he managed to land his current job.

Ahmed, Imagine Fellow #23

Meet Ahmed

Ahmed is not your typical software engineer. He’s not a computer scientist by training. You’d probably never guess what he studied: Zoology.

Ahmed got into software engineering only in 3rd year of college. Then during his 9 month of mandatory military service in Egypt, he spent his free time working on basic websites, learning the basics of .NET and PHP. He then went on to start his first job as a software developer for desktop systems, working mainly with .NET.

Ahmed in 2013: No fancy tech stack. No big-name company. Yet. But a very solid foundation.

Ahmed then switched to work at a different company building web applications. It is here, in this environment, that he became a full-stack web developer. Working on large applications, building scalable websites and restful APIs for corporate clients, he deepened his tech stack. Here he got deeply into Python/Django, PHP5.6 with Cakephp. His learning did not stop there: He got the opportunity to mentor younger tech colleagues and introduced agile at his company.

Ahmed in 2016: Deep experience with large-scale PHP systems. But limited international experience.”

Fast forward another 2 years.

Ahmed took an offer to work as a lead backend developer for the Egypt team at Shopbox, a Scandinavian Point of Sale commerce solution. Working here presented him with another huge learning opportunity. Through daily interactions with teams in Europe, Ahmed became fluent in all aspects of “tech English”. His responsibilities now included learning skills in high demand by any European tech team, namely:

  • Leading the backend team with scrum development methodology
  • Developing and maintaining the application backend restful api
  • Writing unit and functional testing
  • Code review and CI/CD deployment
  • Monitoring and maintaining our cloud architecture (AWS)

Ahmed in 2018: A well-rounded software engineer experienced with microservices, AWS & code reviews, CI/CD, scrum

With skills like these Ahmed easily checks all boxes for tech recruiters in Germany. Note the emphasis on ways of working, not only technology: Code reviews. CI/CD deployment. Unit testing. Functional testing. Scrum.

Admittedly, all of this in hindsight looks impressive. But make no mistake. Ahmed is a humble guy.

He does not think of himself as a rock star developer. He later told me “I don’t think I am that good.” But he also wanted to explore his potential. He said:

“I wanted to see what I can do with my skills. That’s why I’m applying for jobs in Germany.”

Starting job applications: Mixed results

Before joining the Imagine program, Ahmed started applying on his own. He sent out many applications, tens of them. Despite his skills, results were mixed. He got some invites for interviews. Sometimes he got into the coding challenge stage. But ultimately, in his words, “I skipped out in all stages of the process”.

Joining Imagine: “I did the work.”

Then he found us on social media. He was intrigued. A boot camp for software engineers seeking work & life in Europe? Teaching the skills to more successfully apply for jobs in Germany? All for free, supported by firms & foundations & run by a 100% volunteer organization of people from 10 countries?

Ahmed applied for joining our program. We admitted him. He quickly advanced through our program, graduating as Imagine Fellow.

I asked him what he learned from working with us. This is what he said:

  • “Imagine gave me a great detailed overview of how to present myself better in my CV and on my LinkedIn profile. Your advice gave me more interviews.”

I also asked him if he had one piece of advice for fellow job seekers. He said:

  • “Read the Dating for job seekersarticle. It’s very helpful. Then prepare a sheet for you with answers to the questions. This gave me some security.”
  • “I made many changes to my CV and my LinkedIn. I did the work.”

See for yourself: Here is Ahmed’s CV now, here is his LinkedIn profile.

Success: “Thanks for everything. I got the job!”

After our program, Ahmed applied to Check24, a large e-commerce player in Germany. He passed an initial HR screening interview, then a technical interview with Tech Team Lead, followed by a “very challenging” coding challenge in PHP, and finally an interview with the Director of the department.

The Tech Team Lead told Ahmed that he submitted one of the “most advanced solutions we received”. This was great to hear, given that he had put nearly a full weekend into preparing his answer.

The final interview with the Director was all about cultural fit.

Of course, Ahmed was nervous. But knew what to expect, and had a very good chat with Check24’s director of business. He “wanted to get to know me, why I wanted to work at Check24, why Germany, and asked me questions about the process of relocation. He wanted to see if I was ready for it.”

He was.

The end

With a compelling job offer in hand, Ahmed sent us this celebratory email.

This is how it feels.

That was Ahmed’s story. What will be yours? Now it’s time for action. As always, we are rooting for you. Keep us posted.

— Your friends at Imagine

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