Jean Cédric lives in Freienbach in the Cantone of Schwyz and works as a frontend engineer at the company On. He moved from Burundi to Switzerland in 2017. 2019 a friend introduced him to Powercoders. He joined the bootcamp in 2020.
How would you describe your experience with Powercoders?
It is a different journey for everybody. In the beginning at Powercoders I was really scared – how will I be able to succeed, I thought. But each person has their own journey, during the bootcamp and during the internship. Everyone lands in a different company, with different technologies. You have to focus on what you’re doing.
I joined On as an intern two years ago. My manager at On and my job coach Paul James from Powercoders gave me good support throughout the internship. The 6-month internship was extended to 12 months. At the end of the internship, I got a job offered. I was so happy. I didn’t care so much about results and contracts, for me getting hired was my goal and I had reached it!
How did your job coach support you?
Paul supported me in different questions. I did not know so much about what I should say in team meetings, or how I should communicate with my teammates. I was too quiet. I did not know what to say, I was shy, because I didn’t know how I could contribute. He showed me how I can prepare or ask questions, when you don’t know much. F.e. you can ask your team how you can prepare, or how you can help.
What are you proud of?
When I started at On I was the only one from Powercoders. They could see from me that the model of Powercoders works. The managers get to train you for 6 months, and then they get to hire you. They decided to give more candidates from Powercoders a try. We are always looking for more talents.
Last year I was part of one of the two On teams that went to the Career Day. That was a proud moment to go back to Powercoders, sitting at the other side of the table, looking to recruit someone. It was very nice. Now we are four Powercoders at On. Two are in frontend, two in maintenance. It’s great to have more Powercoders at the company.
Would you be ok sharing your journey from Burundi to Switzerland with us?
My journey led through different countries. Finally, I got accepted as an asylum seeker in Switzerland. Arriving here, I had quite a culture shock. I was not used to this cold weather. When I went shopping, I was overwhelmed by the choice of cheese. The food doesn’t taste the same. And people speak 3 – 4 languages or even more!
I lived in a refugee camp. The first interview with the state office of migration (SEM) in Kreuzlingen was 7 or 8 hours long. Then I got a letter with a map and an address. I left early in the morning. I didn’t even know what I was going to do there. I ended up in Schwyz, Brunnen, at the Immigration Office. There I got a new letter with a new plan. I reached Morschach at 3 or 4 pm after a long, confusing journey. I had another shock, I had been transferred into the middle of nowhere.
Some of the habitants showed me the house and gave me something to cook. I lived there for about 10 months. In that time I got to know my roommates and everyone’s struggle and stories. I got to hear how long the whole asylum process was until you got accepted. After asking many times when I will be getting the date for the second interview with SEM, I gave up asking. It was challenging, but it helps to be surrounded by people who are in a similar situation.
In the meanwhile, we were learning German. After a while your life starts evolving, you get used to your circumstances, make friends, while you’re waiting for the 2nd interview. Whenever somebody received a positive response, the whole house used to celebrate it and would be full of hope. If someone got a negative response, we would lose hope.
How did you find your way into IT?
I did a degree in IT, but then I was working in a different field. During the time I lived in the refugee camp in Switzerland, I had a lot of time to think. I met a Swiss guy by chance at the station in Brunnen, and he told me about Powercoders. That was in 2019. I was super excited when I looked Powercoders up on the internet. Soon after, I was transferred a bit closer to Zürich. Later that year, I got a positive answer for my asylum application. I knew I wanted to join Powercoders. They were proposing alternative pathways to the apprentice. My social assistant didn’t know about Powercoders and wasn’t convinced about this path. He said I should first learn German. The integration office in Pfäffikon also didn’t know about Powercoders, but they told me this could be a good fit for me.
Now my former social assistance looks at my On sneakers and sees that I have succeeded.
When I meet him at the station, we talk and joke.
Are you off social assistance now?
Yes, since I got employed as a frontend engineer last year. I was so happy. I still have the first ticket from the trip I could take by train when I gained my financial independence from social assistance. I suddenly had so much more freedom! I realized I could even go to Paris for the weekend, if I wanted! That was not possible for quite a few years.
What do you like most about your work?
As a frontend engineer, you are working on things that people actually see. Even if it’s a very small section, it’s fun to see something you’ve created going on a website and people using it.
How did you succeed to get where you are today?
I used to get frustrated. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to properly learn everything and finish everything every day. I learned that you have to find something positive every day, small things you’ve learned. Take a break, tomorrow is a fresh day. Stay calm. Knowing how to manage the frustration was the biggest lesson I have learned. Frustration doesn’t help. Why are you blocked? What have you tried? What has worked, what not? What do you need to do to unblock? Who can help you? Focus on the solution.
Which habit makes your life better?
Since I joined On, I have started running with my team. Just to be clear – running is not obligatory at On. But running helps me a lot, it helps me to connect with my team. You get to know what is going on in the office. You come to the office, take a shower, then have lunch together. It breaks a lot of boundaries when you’re new. Now I need it 2 – 3 times a week. Sometimes we join a Marathon on a Saturday, f.e. We did the Greifensee-Lauf. I lost a few kilos and gained a few muscles (laughs).
Any tips for newcomers at Powercoders?
If you don’t get in the first time you apply, don’t give up. It happened to me too, I didn’t get in the first time I applied. It was great to start learning on your own, I was really ready the second time.
Start today, start from somewhere, things will evolve from there. Same thing goes for the internship: Don’t lose hope when you don’t get it right away. Stay ready, stay motivated. It’s not easy to not get too nervous, just keep learning.
The good thing about Powercoders is that it’s quite open as to in which direction you will go within IT. They don’t just take you in one direction, they look at your strengths and weaknesses, and they look for something suitable for you.