Moving from Kabul to Germany

Arash is a Back End Software Engineer from Afghanistan. He is currently working at Vertrical, a company in Germany. Arash inspires us that your background shouldn't be an obstacle for you to get a good career in the future. Arash is not his real name, as he chose to remain anonymous for now.

Arash, tell us about yourself, who are you?

I am an Afghan citizen born in Saudi Arabia and moved to Afghanistan at the age of 15 years old. I finished my high school in Kabul and my bachelor's degree at the Kabul Polytechnic University. I was a Database Developer in Kabul, Afghanistan.

  • Years of work experience: 3 years
  • Stack: Nodejs, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Ruby on Rails, ExpressJs
  • Studies: Bachelor of Information Technology

What’s your background?

Here’s my full version, dive in! I was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to Afghanistan at the age of 15 years old. I finished my high school in Kabul and my bachelor's degree at the Kabul Polytechnic University.

Ever since I was done with High school, my goal was to move to a first-world country where there is absolute equality in society, no difference or discrimination among people based on their ethnicity or origin.

A country where one could foresee that he/she is settled and a permanent resident/citizen. A place where instead of focusing on going to a better place, one could focus on benefiting humanity.

My application with Imagine Foundation started in 2018 upon my university graduation.

At first, I was a little bit skeptical and thought of it as a maybe kind of opportunity. I had a short introductory interview with one of Imagine’s team members, in which we discussed my experience in IT and software development in precise, after which I was told that I still needed some hands-on professional experience to be considered in the European job market.

This was true, my experience at the time was around 1 year of working as a Database Developer at the Kabul Police HQ. I didn’t know much about software development nor did I have any completed projects of any sort. During this time, I was trying hard to gain as much experience as possible by either full-time or freelance opportunities both inside Afghanistan and abroad.

Getting hired in Afghanistan was very difficult for me, I couldn’t get a full-time job in Kabul after Kabul Police HQ. I was struggling for around two years, after which I moved back to Saudi Arabia on a student visa and decided to pursue my goal from there since it was a slightly better environment than Afghanistan.

I started learning programming and web development by reading books and online tutorials, after a year and a half in Saudi Arabia, I was finally hired by a tech company as a Software Developer, during my first two months, I was actively trying to learn as much as I could in regards to building and deploying a web application.

And then, when Kabul fell, I received an email from Johann from Imagine Foundation saying they’ve initiated a program specifically for Afghan talent in light of the horrible ongoing situation.

The program was called Talent-Airlift-Afghanistan. It was a specific program with a clear vision to extract and relocate Afghans with work experience and skills that are needed in Germany and Europe in general.

I applied and after a few days of my application, companies started contacting me by email.

They were saying they’re interested in having an interview to discuss my suitability for the role they have vacant at their companies.

At this point, my skepticism started to clear. I saw that there are truly people in the world that are keen to help other people in need if they could, so I decided to join them by attending all the interviews and answering as much as I could in the technical interviews.

How did you get hired at Vertrical?

I was first contacted by Nils, Vertrical’s CEO on Linkedin, encouraged me to apply for one of their vacant roles on the company’s career page (check it out here). I did, and a few days later I was invited to an interview with Tim — Team Lead. On the day of the interview, I remember I was very positive and completely believing that it can work and that I’m on the right way.

The interview started with a brief introduction of the company and then questions about myself and relative to whether I could be a good company fit. After that, we moved into technical questions, both broad and deep knowledge kinds of questions. I remember I didn’t know the answer to a few, but that seemed to be acceptable as long as I showed how I was approaching the questions and a certain level of curiosity to learn and improve myself.

Two weeks later, Friday around noon, I got an email with the subject line ‘Your interviews with Vertrical’ saying that I was offered the position and that they’d be happy to have me on their team and discuss the process for a visa.

I couldn’t believe it, I honestly could not believe it!

I went and asked Nils whether it was true, and yes, he said, Yes, indeed we would very much like to offer you the position. I was thrilled, and I couldn’t wait to start the visa process with Localyze.

What’s 1 piece of advice you’d have for other aspiring TAA Fellows seeking a job in Germany?

I would say: believe in it and it will happen.

Put a lot of quality thought into your CV. I found this article by Imagine to be extremely useful. In interviews, show your human side and also portray yourself as a friend not only as an employee. And remember, don’t get stressed if you don’t know the answer to a question, work ethic, and a good personality goes a long way.

Can you share a tool that has helped you get the job?

This article by Team Imagine helped me a lot better understand how German companies hire, read it here. I read it 3x!

Can you share your CV?

Here is an anonymized version of my CV. You will see that if you are a software engineer, you probably have similar skills to me. If I can make it happen, you can too! I took out a bit of the formatting, and I’d strongly advise you to have a CV that has no more than one page.

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

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