The Microsoft Azure Academy Buddy Program: new connections build a brighter future
The Microsoft Azure Academy for Refugees supports people with a refugee background by helping them build a new IT career in the Netherlands. This academy includes a 20-week training course and a Buddy Program. We launched this academy with our partners ITPH Academy and Refugee Talent Hub and strive to empower people to kickstart a tech career in the Netherlands.
Murat and Yvonne were connected as part of the Buddy Program, and they are sharing their experience in this blog. With technical courses and certificates, Murat was able to lay the foundation for his new future. But building a career requires more than hard skills. And that’s where Yvonne comes in. She supported him during his training course and continues to do so even after he is finished so that Murat can achieve his goals.
Setting up a career in cyber security
When Murat started his course at the Microsoft Azure Academy, he had little knowledge about IT and the work environment in the Netherlands. It did not hold him back from aspiring for a job in tech. Yvonne works at Microsoft, and she knows a lot about the IT sector in the Netherlands. Together they looked at which careers Murat could pursue and which way of searching for a job suited him best. “I learned a lot from her. She taught and showed me many career websites. Together we looked at multiple job soles and which type of qualifications I would need.
Making a difference with guidance and support
For Yvonne, it was a great experience as well. When she signed up for the Buddy Program, she was looking for a new volunteering opportunity at Microsoft. Yvonne moved to the Netherlands just a year ago and experienced how challenging it can be to move to a new country and learn about the labor market’s culture. “I realized how important it is to grow a network of people you can trust. Knowing someone who truly listens and gives you guidance and support makes a real difference.”
She wanted to be that point of contact for someone. “What I liked about the program, from the mentoring side, was our sharing is caring approach. I joined the regular check-ins with other mentors, which enabled me to reflect on my support as a buddy and to grow my mentoring skills further.” They frequently checked how the mentors were feeling about their buddy skills. Over time Yvonne became more confident in her role and learned how to contribute to Murat’s success. The other buddies showed her that she did not need to provide all the answers as long as she was there to listen.
Making the most out of the buddy program
During the meetings, Yvonne and Murat mostly talked about IT and job opportunities. But that was not all. They also bonded over activities outside of work, like sharing stories and experiences Yvonne had in different countries. “She shared memories of places she lived in. I also talked about what I did on the weekends with my family. These conversations made our meetings more enjoyable and personal. I learned a lot from her and consider her as a friend now.”
Yvonne was excited to observe the progress Murat made over time. “I think we both enjoyed it from the beginning. Those regular calls made sure the connection was growing over time.” Murat told her about the exams he was studying for while also managing his time and finding the balance between having focused time to study and time with his family. Yvonne enjoyed celebrating his successes together. “When he passed the exams, I felt very happy for him. Because the program spans over five months, it allowed me to connect more personally. Together we made the most out of that buddy relationship.”
Looking towards the future
Now that the Azure academy is finished, Yvonne and Murat meet less frequently. “But we stay in touch via email and LinkedIn. I’m still offering my help, which is a great opportunity to stay connected and in touch.” Murat, for example, looks forward to doing some interview exercises with Yvonne. Looking back, one thing that stands out to Yvonne is that neither of them are native English speakers. “It is important to think about what and how you say it because things can get lost in translation. So, both buddies need to keep asking questions if things are unclear. Next to that, I admire how Murat balanced his study time and his time caring for his family. He is a great example of how you achieve big goals while working hard and setting healthy boundaries.”
Read more about the Buddy connection between Mustafa and Rudy
More information about the Azure Academy and becoming a buddy: