“If you can live with challenges, you can learn a lot. The fastest track to growing is to keep challenging yourself.”
Ali is no stranger to challenges. After studying fine arts in Syria, the Damascus native spent 10 successful years at a large international advertising firm in Dubai — but when issues related to war forced him to leave, he found a new home across the globe in Amsterdam.
His first job in his new country was in digital animation, but the animation market was spiraling downward — so, he decided to take a risk. He had amateur experience in coding, and he knew coders were in high demand. He heard about Hack Your Future, a local NGO that teaches newcomers coding skills — through their courses, his web development skills reached a professional level.
Ali was ready to pursue a new career in coding. The next question was: where could he get real world coding experience?
Transforming the NewBees database
When Ali got his first freelance coding gig at FONK, a local digital production studio and NewBees partner, his first project was making a new website for NewBees. After proving his skills, he was entrusted with the entire project; creating NewBees’ CRM system became his full-time job.
"Ali is a hard worker,” said FONK co-founder Niels de Keizer. “The drive and motivation of newcomers like him is huge.”
Making an advanced, multi-featured system from scratch is no easy feat, but Ali loved the challenge. He soon created a complete digital database of newbees with easy search features for records, intake forms, CVs and work locations — completely transforming the way NewBees operated.
A mutual impact
While the system made a huge impact on the NewBees team, it also changed Ali — NewBees was the perfect stepping stone
to continue growing in his coding career.
“NewBees helped me get established in the new career I’d chosen for myself,” he said. “They helped me advance in web programing, which is invaluable.”
“While doing the project, I learned a lot,” he continued. “I learned from my own mistakes, and I learned a lot of new practices. When you confront problems and have to find solutions for them, you get the motivation to dig deeper, ask, and know what’s going on — that’s a learning experience, too. This was all offered to me by NewBees. They offered me a lot. It’s not about money; it’s about the chance to get into this industry.”
In fact, this was his favorite thing about working with NewBees: “The challenges were the best thing that happened to me during this experience,” he said. “I know the word ‘challenge’ might not sound positive, but the outcome of the challenge is always positive. Whether you make it or break it, it’s always positive because when you fail, you learn; and when you succeed, you win.”
A new future
Where is Ali now? He’s moved on to a new, full-time paid job in coding. Despite the new role, he’s still advising NewBees in web and coding matters.
“I needed the flexibility that any beginner would need — these guys wouldn’t have offered it to me from the beginning. NewBees gave it to me.”
He sees continuing to help NewBees as a way to be able to keep helping other newcomers in need of the same help he needed years ago.
“I love what NewBees is doing. They’re the only ones doing this — the only website, organization dedicated to helping refugees find jobs. NewBees gave me a chance, and for that I’m grateful.”
Interested in helping newcomers like Ali in their journey to finding a new career in the Netherlands? Check out our contributions page to learn more about how you can impact the lives of local newcomers.