POWERCODERS

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

What is Powercoders?

Powercoders is a coding academy for refugees. It consists of a coding bootcamp of 13 weeks and an internship that lasts 6 to 12 months. It all started in Switzerland. The ultimate goal of Powercoders is the permanent placement of trained refugees in IT-companies and IT-departments.


general

  • How was Powercoders started?

    It all started with a trip to the United States. The American government invited an entrepreneur of each European country.

    Founder Christian Hirsig met there two entrepreneurs, one with a cooking school for refugees, one with a coding academy for women. At this time, the refugee crisis in Europe was all over the news. Driven by the energy to help the idea of Powercoders was born.

  • Who can participate?

    Talented refugees, independent from their place of living, as long as they are allowed to travel.

  • What does it cost?

    The program is free of charge for the students.

  • How is Powercoders financed?

    Powercoders is a non profit organisation that depends on volunteers. To cover our costs, we are supported by the Swiss government, foundations, companies and individuals. Powercoders appreciates every donation.

  • Why is a mentoring included?

    Our participants need more than technical knowledge in order to achieve a sustainable integration into employment.That’s why our program includes a mentoring. Each participant is accompanied by one volunteering mentor.

  • Who can become a mentor?

    Everyone who is a local in the specific city, motivated to learn about other culture and willing to spend time with each other once every week. There are no IT skills needed.

  • How long does the mentoring lasts?

    Mentoring starts during a program and lasts until the end of the internship.

  • Is a mentor paid?

    The mentoring is voluntary work. Powercoders is covering parts of the expenses.

  • Who can become a coach?

    IT professionals who want to support students solving IT challenges and help teaching for some days in the afternoons. There is no teaching experience needed.

  • What IT skills are needed for a coach?

    We are looking for a different skill set. So everyone willing to support as a coach is welcome to apply.

  • What kind of programming skills are being taught during the first 3 months bootcamp?

    Students at Powercoders learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in the first seven weeks. They also learn about GIT, UX and Agile Project Management. The second part of the course - after Career Day - focuses more on server-side technologies and programming languages and frameworks that are being used by our internship companies.

  • Is a coach paid?

    The coaching is voluntary work. Powercoders is covering parts of the expenses.

  • What is the career day?

    At the career day we are simulating a real job finding situation. Every company is presenting the internship they want to offer. Afterwards every company has a booth and the participants can stop by. The goal of a participating company is to invite 3 to 5 participants for an second interview in the following week.

  • Is a donation tax-deductible?

    Yes, donations are tax-deductible, as Powercoders is a registered non-profit in Switzerland.

  • How do I get a tax receipt for a donation?

    You will receive a tax receipt after the end of each tax year.

Student

  • What requirements are needed to apply?
    • Refugees
    • Basic knowledge in IT
    • English fluency
    • Commitment
    • Full-time availability
    • Motivation
  • How to apply as a student?

    Check out our current programs for application.

  • How are the students selected?

    If the application looks promising, we invite the applicant to a IT-test and a personal interview. We were looking for participants with high learning abilities, motivation, passion, talent and convincing personalities. Only the most promising ones are going to be selected.

  • Who pays for transport?

    Powercoders pays if there is no budget from the responsible social welfare.

  • What other things does Powercoders support the students with?

    Powercoders also offers additional support for laptop, transportation and food where needed.

  • Does every student goes into an internship after school?

    If the student receives a diploma, normally we can provide an internship.

  • How do the students find the right company for the internship?

    At the career day. There we are simulating a real job finding situation. Every company is presenting the internship they want to offer. Afterwards every company has a booth and the participants can stop by. The goal of a participating company is to invite 3 to 5 participants for an second interview in the following week.

Company

  • I have an IT company, how can I help Powercoders?

    The best way is to offer an internship. If this is not possible for you, you can encourage your employees to join us as mentors or coaches or make a donation. Please get in touch with us.

  • Why offer an internship for Powercoders?

    An internship for Powercoders is, on the one hand, a shortcut for talented people from a refugee background who need a doorway into the IT labour market of Switzerland. On the other hand, it is the unique chance for companies to get ahold of raw talent, get in touch with a person from a refugee background, and have a strong impact on his or her unusual life story. Almost every company who offered an internship has told us that it was a very enriching experience for all their employees.

  • How long should an internship last?

    The average duration of an internship is 6 - 12 months. However you can also offer 3 months and decide later if you’d like to prolong it.

  • What is the career day?

    At the career day we simulate a real job-finding situation. Each company presents in 5 minutes the internship they wish to offer. Afterwards each company has a booth and the participants can stop by. The goal is to invite 3 to 5 participants for an interview in the following week.

  • Are the refugees allowed to work in Switzerland?

    Yes. Refugees with B or F permits are considered almost like Swiss welfare recipients. The state wants them to be integrated, have a job and become independent. The same goes for temporarily-admitted foreigners with F status.

    Asylum seekers with permit N are theoretically allowed to work, but have more difficulties getting a work permit because of the priority for people living in Switzerland.

  • How to get the job permit for interns?

    The Powercoders team files the applications for the job permits. The companies only have to sign the application form that we prepare for them, create the employment contract and pay the low fee (if there is one).

  • How long is the job permit valid for?

    The work permit is limited to the duration of the internship. However, if the same company wants to offer another internship or employment subsequently, the work permit can easily be adapted accordingly. A work permit is always only valid for an employment at the company it was applied for.

  • What is the recommended salary? Why?

    The recommended salary during the internship is between CHF 400 and 600 a month. This is roughly equivalent to a salary of a 1-year-apprentice./p>

  • What happens to the work permit if the internship is followed up by a apprenticeship?

    That depends on the Canton. But in most Cantons the apprenticeship needs to be recognized by the authorities and then the work permit can be issued.

  • Does the company have to offer a job or an apprenticeship after the internship?

    No. There is no obligation to employ the intern after the internship in any way. However, if you want to continue to engage with your intern but you can’t offer a job or an apprenticeship, there are several alternative options:

    • prolong the internship upto one year
    • offer a part-time internship or job and let the intern study German part-time
    • offer a part-time internship or job while your intern is part-time studying at FH or ETH
    • share the resource with another company in the Powercoders network
  • Does the company has to apply for a new job permit if the internship is followed up by an apprenticeship?

    No, the existing job permit can easily be adapted to a permit for an apprenticeship.

  • Are the students allowed to work outside of a Canton?

    Yes, they are. But important is that their main work and their workplace is with the company that filed the working permit and within that Canton where the permit was issued.

  • Who are the students?

    The students are highly skilled refugees from various countries. Most of them already have a background in IT or engineering. But most important are their learning skills.

  • How did Powercoders select the students?

    If the application looks promising, we invite the applicant to an IT-test and a personal interview. We look for participants with high learning skills, motivation, passion, talent and convincing personalities. Only the most promising ones are selected.

  • Where and how do the students live?

    Most of them are living in flats offered by their social service. A few of them (mainly the ones who have not been granted asylum) are living in refugee homes.

  • How much money does a refugee get from the social welfare per month?

    The social welfare law of each canton regulates the amount of money social welfare recipients get. They follow the SKOS (Schweizerische Konferenz für Sozialhilfe) regulations. A recognised refugee with permit B or F living alone receives around 1000 CHF per month (accommodation and health insurance expenses not included). Temporarily admitted persons with permit F and Asylum seekers with permit N often receive much less.