Improving the world through code: The story of Ben

Benjamin L.

Have you met Ben yet?

I met Ben two weeks ago, but had the pleasure of interviewing this 20-something year old recently. He has an incredible ability to make you relate to him with little effort and not to mention incredibly smart and resourceful. These are just a few of the qualities Ben has among recently embarking on a 6 month coding boot-camp at Integrify.

For those who don’t know, Integrify helps people kick-start their careers in Finland in the world of technology. It is a software development center for talented newcomers — and Ben is one of them.

I wanted to interview Ben because he is approaching his graduation in October (lookout employers) and to hear, first hand how his experience at Integrify has been. Here is what he had to say…


1. Q: How did you hear about Integrify?

A: I found Integrify on Facebook. Eyas, Head of HR & Operations, posted about Integrify in the ‘Helsinki Job seekers’ Facebook group.

2. Q: Were you hesitant to join Integrify?

A: Yeah. I was skeptical of what Integrify was at first. The website didn’t really say anything about what is really happening there. I came for an ‘open-day’ in either February or March and after that I was eager to join. I had already applied in November, but I made up my mind about Integrify when I attended the open-day. I wanted to get in.

3. Q: What brought you to Finland?

A: In short, my wife. When I was studying on an exchange program in Italy, I met my girlfriend, and now wife. After Italy, I studied in Maine, USA and I continued my relationship with my girlfriend there. She also came to visit and study in Maine for a year herself. While my wife and I were dating, I did all my work experience in Finland, travelling back and forth to Finland from the USA. After I graduated, we go married and we settled in Finland.

4. Q: What are some of the major obstacles that you are facing while job hunting here in Finland?

A: Honestly not many. I wouldn’t say I am confident but I’m not worried and I am eager to start working. Mmhhm, but I have heard a lot of horror stories about technical interviews that have made me nervous (make programmers code something right on the spot during interview), but that’s all. I hope that is not something that actually happens too much for technical interviews in Finland.

5. Q: What are some drawbacks about being a foreigner in Finland?

A: In my opinion, in the business field, English is not a language that people are comfortable working in. As a professional, you may be very skilled and educated, but if you don’t speak Finnish or Swedish these are your shortcomings. All of my peers or friends have left Finland because there are no jobs here for them. Or I have friends who have stayed in Finland, but are not working in their field because they don’t speak the language.

6. Q: Are you uneasy about not knowing Finnish when looking for a job?

A: No, not for this field. Finnish is not necessary when you know code.

7. Q: What would you say to those who are applying to Integrify?

A: I have a lot to say to help people figure out if Integify is for you. If you are someone who wants more in life and are capable of doing more in your life, then Integrify is right for you. For those who feel if only I knew how to code, then I could find a job, then Integrify is the place for you. If you feel you are competent enough, if you can learn fast, there is a place for you here. Many people tell you, ‘just study Finnish’, ‘just learn the language and you will get a job’, but even then, there is no jobs for you.

“Two years of Finnish can get you a cleaning job, but half a year of coding can get you a new career.”

Integrify is a jump board; It doesn’t propel you anywhere, it magnifies your own input. There is a better language; computer language.

8. Q: What made you apply to Integrify?

A: I am sick of being so resentful of my situation. Being powerless is what motivates me and I want to change my situation. It is hard to excel alone, but when you have a group, you can set goals, work towards those goals and challenge each other in code and to exceed. The class room setting is motivating at Integrify. I wouldn’t want to say Integrify was an escape, but Integrify offered hope and it helped me channel my resentment into something. After graduating college, I realized that the wealth of knowledge is not helping me start a fire and perhaps the knowledge I have been taught is not useful at the moment. I don’t mean to say it is not useful at all, but I need something now and I don’t wanna wait anymore for things to happen. I felt motivated to apply to Integrify without thinking.

“I wanna make something out of myself and I suppose improving the world is the basic reason to live.”

But deep down, everyone wants to contribute a little and this is my little contribution — code.

9. Q: How is the future looking for you after Integrify?

I’m really excited to see what my future in Finland holds. It has been very motivating seeing students from Integrify land various interesting job opportunities in different tech companies and really looking forward to the next step in my career as a developer!


Takeaway: Soon to be graduated Ben is eager to start looking for a job in a new career. Integrify has helped him to channel the frustration he has had into something more productive — code. As immigrants, there are many challenges when confronting the job market; language, invalidation of former education, lack of network, and more. These challenges are becoming irrelevant in the field of tech. With Integrify, we are Enabling Integration through Technology. For more information about applying click here.

If you are an employer and want to know more about Ben or the other soon to be graduates, you can always contact Integrify CEO Daniel Rahman (daniel@integrify.fi) or you can visit the Integrify website for more information.