Ibrahim is a Senior Software Engineer, currently working at Templafy in Berlin. He is also a technical coach for Imagine Fellows. We spoke to him about his experience of moving from Cairo to Berlin.
Ibrahim with his Family in Berlin
When did you move to Germany?
I moved to Berlin with my wife and two children in December 2019. This means now in April 2020, I have been here for the past three and a half months.
How did you find a school for your children?
My wife Amany did the due diligence and signed them up at the “zuständige Schule”, a local school assigned to us based on our address. Within two weeks they were attending school. It was much easier than we thought!
Why did you decide to relocate?
One of the major reasons for moving to Germany was the education of my children. We had always dreamed of giving our children the opportunity to study at elite universities around the world. Knowing that quality education from elementary school up to university is free in Germany, we decided to relocate.
On top, Berlin is a technological hub where companies need engineers every day, and I wanted to avail more opportunities to expand my learning instead of staying in one company back home.
My son loves cars. When he’s ready for university, he can always move down to Bavaria to study and pursue his passion!
What did your first week in Berlin look like?
We arrived in Berlin a day before Christmas. It was surprising for us to find all the stores and markets closed. We had to do our initial shopping at the superstores in central Schnell-Bahn (metro) stations. In a couple of weeks, we started going to work and settled into a routine.
What do you like about Berlin? What is your go-to spot?
Berlin is a green city with an efficient and well-connected public transport system. We did not feel the need to buy a car, instead, we try to walk everywhere and experience the city. I occasionally encounter language barriers, but I find the Berliners to be supportive. There is always someone willing to help out.
Tempelhofer feld is our go-to spot in the city. I am actually looking forward to flying kites there with my children this weekend.
How did you plan your relocation? Can you share any tips?
First, we went through all of the articles published by Imagine on Medium. Every time I had a question, I’d shoot a text to Johann, the CEO of Imagine. He would always dig up something helpful for me, for example giving me advice on which areas in Berlin are great places to live with kids.
I also found responsive Facebook groups and virtual platforms such as Egyptian Software Engineers in Berlin and Awesome Berlin. Here you can find a step by step guide for everything that you will need to relocate to Berlin.
What was the one thing that made the vital difference for you to pursue a life in Germany?
I used to receive a few interview calls every year which never really materialized into an opportunity. I wasn’t even getting through the first HR interviews. This obviously had a negative effect on my self-confidence. A friend of mine had told me about Imagine and I decided to attend the Bootcamp. I thought it would be worth a try to improve my CV and LinkedIn profile.
One week after I had incorporated the best practices taught to me at the Imagine Bootcamp, I received 3 interview requests in a span of only one week! From 3 a year to 3 in a week! Things fell into place after that and I received an attractive offer from Templafy.
What differences have you noticed between the Middle Eastern and German Job Markets?
Recruiters in the Middle East prefer detailed CVs. In Germany I feel it’s the opposite: it has to be concise and must include the relevant keywords.
The job titles are also different in Europe and you are going to miss out on opportunities if you do not take that into consideration.
I received a senior title after working for three to five years in the Middle East but today, only after 17 years of experience, my title at Templafy is “Senior Software Engineer”. If you are looking to work in Germany or Europe, then it is important to match the titles of the respective job market. Here in Germany, it’s about your skills, capabilities, and what you bring to the organization.
How many hours do you work every week?
The working week for me runs from Monday to Friday and I work eight hours every day and 40 hours per week. When I am at work, I am expected to be productive. But when I leave the office then it’s my time and I do not feel the pressing need to work from home. So I can really enjoy the weekends with my family!
How about salaries in Germany?
For me, it’s a package. Back in Bahrain, I was even receiving more money after-tax, but I had to pay for my family’s education and health. Here I do not have these expenses as it is taken care of through the tax system. I do not have a fancy package but the opportunities here are endless and the IT sector pays competitively.
Once you are here, you will see new opportunities knocking on your door.
Do you have any advice for people who are reading this article?
You are in good hands with Imagine. Do not doubt your skills. Keep trying, work hard, incorporate the changes suggested by your coach and… if you apply to the right jobs, it will happen for you.
That’s it. We hope you enjoyed the read. Now it’s time for action. As always, we are rooting for you. Keep us posted.
— Your friends at Imagine