In 2017, I arrived in Rotterdam ready to start a new life. I had been working as a Professor in Nigeria. Sadly, I could not go back to Turkey. My friends and I sought refuge in the Netherlands because there’s a large Turkish Community and our families may visit us here.
After 9-months, I was given residency. Those months were long and frustrating. I wasn’t able to work or learn, and it felt cheap to receive support from the Dutch government without contributing back. So, when I was accepted onto the One Program at Restart Network, it was refreshing to use my mind and to start working towards something again.
The Restart Network is a non-profit organisation transforming lives. Refugees, low-income workers and minorities in the tech world are given the opportunity to begin a new career in development. But it’s not easy. The days are challenging, you need to focus and really apply yourself.
There are no traditional teachers at Restart Network. The students become the guides and we develop by doing and learn through teaching. The course motivates you to think independently, develop leadership skills and cooperate with a diverse group of people.
As part of the One Program, there are masterclasses at many companies. We’re given the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry. At Picnic’s masterclass, I discovered a curiosity for website design. It’s an interesting challenge because you have to present solutions to problems in a way that is understood by everyone. I wanted to pursue this topic and I was invited to Picnic for a 6-month internship.
During the internship, I’ve been able to apply all the skills I learnt at Restart Network while contributing to a real product. The environment is flexible and there’s freedom to learn. The tech team is ready to try the latest technology and there’s a drive for everyone to write good quality code. This was difficult at first but with help from colleagues, I’ve been improving each day.
Thanks to the Restart Network and the internship at Picnic I’m on the path to starting a new life. Now, I understand what companies need and I know the reality of working in a professional environment. The experience has been eye-opening and I’m prepared for whatever comes next.
For anyone in a similar position as me, be patient and don’t give up. There are people and organisations willing to give you a chance to prove yourself and help you restart your career.