“Education can change the way you see the world around you”
Powercoders: Rahim, tell us, what are you doing professionally now?
Rahim: I finished my internship at Credit Suisse last summer and am now employed by Credit Suisse as Junior Software Engineer. I am participating in a program called Career Start. That’s an internal program of CS, which normally is for university graduates.
Powercoders: How is that working for you?
Rahim: Very good! Banking business was all new to me. Good people around me have helped me a lot, technically but also to understand the business.
What do you like most about your work at CS?
The team, the collaboration, the transparency within the team. There is psychological freedom. Even as an intern I can speak my mind.
What was your journey after you graduated from the Powercoders batch in Basel 2019?
First I did an internship at Novartis for 12 months. I was so motivated and focussed on learning that I did not mind travelling 5 hours daily from Bremgarten to Basel and back. I spent my weekends at home, studying. And it was worth doing that! I had a mentor at Novartis, Damir Bučar, who has also been volunteering at Powercoders as a job coach. I had many questions and he helped me a lot. I am still in touch with him, we just met a week ago. I still ask him for feedback and tipps on my ideas and thoughts.
How wonderful. What happened after the internship?
After the 12 months another 6 months of internship was offered to me, but there was no perspective of being hired afterwards. So I ended it and started looking for junior positions, internships, apprenticeships in the field of IT. But I couldn’t find an opportunity. So I took a temporary job in logistics at digitec.
That must have been disappointing for you.
I felt heartbroken. But I thought, maybe there will be an opening for me at a later point in time. When I got the message from Powercoders that I could go to an interview with Credit Suisse I couldn’t believe it! I was very excited. But also a bit nervous to meet with bankers in ties and suits. But that was just an imagination of mine. The interview was very nice, not very classic or formal, more like a conversation.
So do you wear fancy ties and suits to work?
On my first day of work I was overdressed (laughs). I then realized there was a dress code in business, but the IT guys were walking around in shorts and T-shirts.
How did you succeed to get where you are today?
By not giving up. Far away from my family, worried about them, being here with the label refugee and a permit F… it’s been tough. But I won’t give up.
Where do you take the strength from to not give up?
It comes from my childhood. I experienced a lot of difficulties. The first time the Taliban took over, I saw it with my own eyes. It was tough. That made me the person I am today. Tough - and at the same time quiet. I don’t get distracted easily. If you’ve seen worse, certain things can look very small.
Would you mind telling us about your journey from Afghanistan to Switzerland?
It was like for so many of us. Paying for the human trafficker, escaping through the deserts and mountains, hiding, facing thirst, hunger, cold. I entered Pakistan, I was 22 years old, I don’t even know where I was. From Pakistan to Iran, then Turkey, from there onwards it was less challenging. In Greece there were UNHCR shelters, with food and clothes. That was November 2015. I arrived in Switzerland on the 12th of December 2015. I remember that day clearly.
Are you in touch with your family?
I call them every two weeks. They are still in Afghanistan. The situation there is very challenging. Being a minority ethnic group they’re being targeted. Unfortunately such is the reality of our lives. I have two brothers and two sisters. I am the youngest in our family.
What do your sisters say about you?
They are proud of me. They love me and miss me. My family has always supported me in everything, also in my education. Education can change the way you see the world around you. If you don’t have an education you just follow things without thinking why.
Do you feel a cultural clash here in Switzerland?
I guess I am used to being different. Even in Afghanistan I had different ideas and thoughts than the majority of society.
Is there something you still have to adapt to in Switzerland?
The climate! You can never trust it!
We at Powercoders are proud of Abdul Rahim. He is a role model and inspiration for many people. He recently signed up as a Job Coach at Powercoders and will soon be supporting one of our newbies at Powercoders. What a wonderful way to give forward!
Success story Abdul Rahim Alizada.
Interviewed by Sunita Asnani, Team Social Media, Powercoders.