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Header photo: Omar and Ali
A new language, cultural differences, or an invalid degree. For people with a refugee background, finding a new job remains challenging. Having support during this transition can go a long way. Microsoft and ABN AMRO offer their support by combining training for highly sought-after IT roles with follow-up in a paid job at the bank. This long-term sustainable success is a win-win situation for everyone involved. In this blog post, Microsoft Azure Academy graduates Omar and Ali share their experiences.
Learning about new technologies
Omar was born in Abu Dhabi but lived most of his life in Yemen. He came to the Netherlands in 2019 and wanted to continue his software engineering skills and build a life and career in his new country. Omar’s interest in IT started at a young age. “I like how you always have to learn something new to solve the puzzle, it really motivates me.”
Azure Academy graduate Ali was born in Turkey. Just like Omar he had prior experience in IT, having worked as a database administrator in Turkey. After coming to the Netherlands in 2019, he wanted to build upon his existing skills. When a friend at a Dutch asylum center told him about the Azure Academy, he was immediately interested. “When I arrived in the Netherlands, I felt quite alone without a job, home, or network. I knew I wanted to work as soon as possible to build my own livelihood and to integrate into my new country,” Ali shares.
The Azure Academy was his chance to do so. “Every organization is moving their business to the cloud. I was curious to find out more about these technologies,” Ali explains. “This IT and soft skills training was fully paid for and helped me update my cloud/data/IT skills and certifications. As a result, I got a paid job at ABN AMRO in a great team.”
Getting the most out of Azure Academy
After some IQ and personality tests, both Omar and Ali joined the Azure Academy program. For a period of 16 weeks, they trained to be Azure data engineers. Ali reflects on what he learned during one of his projects. “Looking back, our group presentation was the highlight of my time at Azure Academy. We used Power BI to show how a country’s gross domestic product correlated with the level of healthcare and the average education level.”
“One of the things I really liked about Azure Academy is that they give you the opportunity to test everything,” Omar says. He’s also happy about the networks you develop during your training and enjoyed combining the curriculum with self-study. “I’d recommend it to anyone, as it teaches you about real-world issues.” The combination of expanding IT skills and learning soft skills in this program was the crucial head start both Omar and Ali needed.
Following their training at Azure Academy, both Omar and Ali found jobs at ABN AMRO. Ali works as a Data & Development Engineer with a Forensic Data Disclosure team. “I help my team especially on Azure cloud environment and database management. I really like my job and feel like I’m making a difference at the company.”
As an IT Engineer, Omar ensures the bank’s infrastructure is reliable and stable. He enjoys finding the right solution for each issue. “When we get a new requirement, we pitch our own ideas to enhance the platform or fix the problem in a different way. And this is really the way I like to do it.”
A happy home at ABN AMRO
By sharing their experiences, Ali and Omar also help to improve the partnership between Microsoft and ABN AMRO. For example, the Azure Academy curriculum now offers courses about scrum and Agile principles. Their feedback is also essential to keep improving this program. This way we can offer the best solutions and training guidelines for future trainees.
Speaking of their feedback, both gentlemen are happy that they were able to join ABN AMRO after graduating from the Azure Academy. “I like that you can talk to anyone in the organization without feeling there’s a difference in hierarchy,” says Omar. Ali shares this observation. “When I started at ABN AMRO, everybody treated me as an equal.”
For Ali, Azure Academy was a springboard for his new life. “It’s a great opportunity for refugees. Now I have a job and get to learn new things every day.” Omar is also very happy at the bank. “My work is really challenging, and that’s what makes it fun. My motto: don’t rest until you beat the best.”