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From factory work to coding: Mohamad's not letting any opportunity go

Arriving in a new country can turn your life upside down, especially if you're just starting a career. Mohamad's response was to jump at every opportunity that came his way.

From factory work to coding: Mohamad's not letting any opportunity go

Arriving in a new country can turn your life upside down, especially if you're just starting a career. Mohamad's response was to jump at every opportunity that came his way.

"I was shocked by reality. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go." Mohamad said, thinking back on his transition from Syria to Turkey.

Even equipped with a degree in Petroleum Engineering, Mohamad found it difficult to find a white-collar job as a Syrian refugee without Turkish citizenship or official residency. He faced rejection after rejection.

But then he got his first break at a baklava factory. Even though it wasn't what he was looking for long-term, it paid the bills and had reasonable working hours. But after two years, Mohamad needed a change: "You know, I realized it's the most valuable period in life, and we shouldn't waste it by any meaning."

Not wasting any more time

Back in Syria, Mohamad had taken several programming courses. But due to the increasing instability of the country and his circumstances, he couldn't complete them. It seemed now that he was more settled, he might be able to pick up coding again

With some savings, Mohamad bought himself a laptop, "I started learning by myself using free resources but guess what? I failed again!" Mohamad laughs.

"But that was the best failure I ever felt. I was missing a clear vision and path. There was no mentor to guide me. I struggled with procrastination. Studying at university would be the solution, but I didn't want to spend four years at 27."

Procrastinating on Facebook, Mohamad found an alternative and one that might shortcut his path to a new career: a Re:Coded bootcamp.

'If at first, you do not succeed, try, try again'

"After I read that they provide a clear path and mentorship with commitment, I said to myself, this is it! I had never heard of anyone studying in Re:Coded, so it was a mysterious experiment."

"I didn't give the application much of my time," Mohamad recalled, "and I barely wrote two sentences about the website I wanted to develop to count calories with what I will learn."

It's not uncommon for first-time applicants not to spend the right amount of time on their application. For Mohamad, his two-sentence motivation letter got him a quick rejection.

A few months later, Mohamad came across another announcement for a Re:Coded Frontend Bootcamp, "I thought this might be my last chance, so I have to use it wisely. I took a pen and paper and started sketching my website. I even explained in 500 words how will I use react for building this, JavaScript for adding interactivity, and then use HTML and CSS for building the structure of the site."

This time, his application earned him a spot in the bootcamp.

Racing to the next opportunity

Mohamad built crucial real-world skills in the bootcamp. "Dealing with GitHub, pushing requests, having standups. I wouldn't have learned any of that without a capstone."

And before long, he was ready to hit the ground running in his post-bootcamp-graduation job search. And if he had learned anything from his second application to the Re:Coded bootcamp, it was that if you're going to do it, give it 100%.

"I divided my time into three main blocks. So the first thing I did was build my own projects. The second thing I did was learn new things, such as TypeScript. The third was applying for jobs early among the first ten applicants." Mohamad shared, "Basically, I started spending most of my time on LinkedIn more than any other social media."

In the job search process, it's easy to start comparing yourself to others, especially as you spend more and more time on social media. Mohamad wasn't phased: "It's more important to focus on yourself rather than watching what people are doing."

The competition was fierce for some of these jobs, and Mohamad wasn't going to lose. When given job tests during the hiring processes, Mohamad found himself not only flexing the skills he learned in the bootcamp but frantically learning new ones.

"They sent me the technical assignments, which involved building a blog app using Redux, which I had no idea about, but it had to be submitted after 48 hours. I thought if it was something I could learn in a month, then I could also learn in a day. I slept 4 hours and submitted the assignment in 1 day to be among the first candidates."

Point zero

Mohamad landed his first job as a junior developer in September 2022. But just because he "made it," doesn't mean that he's resting easy.

"Now that I secured a job, I don't believe I have reached my destination. I am still at point zero now." Mohamad laughs.

On the job, he's continuing to learn loads of new things. And when he's not?

"I try to use my morning hours to learn something new aside from work, like advanced Javascript." Mohamad shares how eager he is to continue to invest in his growth mindset.

After all, snagging an in-demand remote role or one that might include sponsorship to Europe or Canada will need him to level up.

Adrie Smith

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