Tale of an EU Immigrant

Photo by Sangga Rima Roman Selia on Unsplash

When it comes to immigration and finding a job in another country, some people think it’s just applying, getting the job, packing your bags and start as if it’s like a movie or a show!

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own

⚔️ Quest for a Change

I never thought I would plan to seek a new life in another country. My life was comfortable back in Egypt. I am still in my twenties, a good salary, an interesting job, awesome friends, my irreplaceable cool family.

But I knew that in most advanced western countries that their living standards and liberties would push my innovation and expertise to achieve more especially that they are welcoming highly-skilled labours and this has bipartisan support.

That’s when it struck me that life is full of opportunities out there and accepting a lousy limiting fate is not an excuse. When you change your view to another perspective and seek potential, that’s when good things start to happen, and it did!

I focused then on one goal: Start a new life

😞 Hard Start

It all started in 2013 when I tried to continue my bachelor studies at first in a culturally close country but modernized which was Turkey. It has a good student sponsorship program that will also cover my living costs. I applied for some universities through their government-sponsored scholarship, but all failed and I am glad now it did!

In 2017 and after graduation, I tried to apply for a Master’s Degree in Germany but was astonished to find it needs around €11,000 at least to apply and cover my living expenses for a single year!

This was a huge amount of money in a country the average high paying mid-level software engineer is around 700–1000 euros per month and that €11,000 is only to make life barely livable as I would need more.

😌 Acceptance

After my initial failure to immigrate to Germany, I thought to continue working as a freelancer since it was more lucrative than a normal 9-to-5 job back there. I got paid with average EU and USA salaries while my living expenses are of a third-world country, nice!

But after a while, I got bored and applied for my first full-time job at Avelabs LLC, an automotive software company. I got accepted the same day I did my interview only after 2 hours!

👀 Second Trial

During my time working at Avelabs, many employees got new job opportunities in Germany as embedded software engineers.

Later, I knew that there is a high shortage of qualified software engineers in the EU and especially in Germany which is trying to get its place in the IT world and digitalize its system.

I stumbled by a very good backend developer, and not long after he told me he got a job opportunity in Germany and will be leaving soon. I wanted to know how to apply and find a job there.

He told me about this wonderful team that helps people to improve their LinkedIn profiles and CVs to apply for jobs in Germany.

That was when I knew about the Imagine team!

They have helped me to improve my LinkedIn profile and CV and what to do to get an interview opportunity by German employers.

I admit it, they have done a good job to improve them and after I did their tips and read all of their topics on Medium, I started being hit by companies when I applied to them.

I highly recommend them if you are looking to apply for a job in German. They have helped a lot of Software engineers to land jobs here and my friend’s story was so inspiring that I believed that my distant dream is going to be just a reality.

🥺 Hell of Rejections

Back then on paper, I had 2-years of experience. In reality, I have been programming since I was 13 years old. I started to freelance in my second year in college and found it is pretty profitable. During that time I have built 50+ websites for 30 clients from 10 countries and worked for a while on Upwork too.

I started looking mainly on Linkedin for opportunities. I applied actively to over 80 jobs and the number of rejections was to the state it can become discouraging to continue. I still have them in my mail inbox as a reminder of how hard it has been to get it.

I only added five of them so you can see it too:

Rejection Mail #1
Rejection Mail #2
Rejection Mail #3
Rejection Mail #4
Rejection Mail #5

From all of these 80 job applications, I only got 4 job interviews!

The hiring process was a bit similar:

  • It starts normally with an introductory interview more like a culture fit interview which most probably would be with your future manager.
  • Then an extensive technical interview that might include more than one person.
  • Home-assignment might be required before or after the technical interview.
  • Final interview with a director or the CTO for final approval.

In general, to pass an interview it’s a mixture of two things: Experience and Presentation.

😙 First Offer!

During my application, one company in Dubai have approached me to apply for their position. I had with them an amazing interview where I could show off my real expertise.

It started with a short cultural fit interview so they can get to know me more.

Then they arranged for a long technical interview with one lead developer and another senior developer for 3 hours. Questions varied between algorithms, knowledge about how JavaScript is executed, architectural decisions.

Then, I was asked to do a programming assignment that I spent around 30 hours doing on multiple days and you can find the project repo on my GitHub account.

After a few days, they have sent me an offer letter 🙌

🤩 Another Offer!!

But the unexpected happened! I landed another job interview in my dream city Berlin with a big successful company Delivery Hero.

The interview started with a quick introduction interview with a senior manager which would later become my manager.

I then did a technical interview with a senior developer and he asked me tricky questions on Javascript and ReactJS.

I then did my last interview with a director at the company.

The next day, I got an email that I was accepted at Delivery Hero as a software developer, and all of this in less than a week ❤️

Now, I have two golden tickets and I certainly went with my dream to go to Europe starting a new life and immigrating to colorful and diverse Berlin.

🇪🇺 Visa process

Oh wait you thought that was the happy ending 😅

The first hard part of the story is done but now starts the bureaucracy part!

I applied to the German embassy website for an appointment just to apply for the entry visa. I had to wait for 90 days to get an appointment as the number of people who want to leave and immigrate is very high.

The queue line at the embassy never ends and there you see all professions who are immigrating and they are mainly engineers, doctors, and researchers.

The papers that my application should include were:

  • Accredited Graduation Certificate by both the Ministry of Foreign affairs and the German embassy.
  • Work Contract
  • Current employer recommendations
  • Passport
  • Pictures (45mm x 35mm)
  • Visa Application Form
  • Correctness Form that says I am not lying about my information.
  • Travel Health Insurance

Some people might need extra papers like proof of German profency, experience years letters or bank account statements.

It took around 21 days to get my visa approved and stamped on my passport. It was one of the happiest moments in my life like I got a ticket to heaven and I stayed all that day just looking at it. It was a turning point that would change my life forever.

🛫 Immigration D-Day

14th of November 2019 at 9:35 CET, The day and time on which my plane took off. It is the day that has changed my life forever. It is so memorable that I remember every second of it!

I know the process is hard and I am happy it is hard because that what makes it great and speacial!

I was so lucky that I was able to immigrate legally. Many people try either by crossing the seas or walking for months and escaping patrol police searching for a new, safe and prosperous life.

🇩🇪 A Year has Passed

Me at Brandenburger Tor in Berlin

Now, I am enjoying my life happily in Berlin and I have changed a lot and still!

I am glad that I chose Germany. A strong country at the heart of Europe that is also tolerant towards immigrants. A country I am happy to call home!

And for anyone asking; yes it is worth it 😌

My number one rule while searching for a job in Germany is never to lose hope and it is a numbers game, the more you apply the higher the chance you will get an opportunity.

Quick tips:

  • LinkedIn is your number one best friend
  • Do an excel sheet for your job applications and highlight rejection reasons to know your weaknesses
  • Ask for feedback after the interview is done to improve
  • Read topics on Imagine team Medium page

Thanks for reading my story and I hope you enjoyed it!

Social media: Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and GitHub

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Abdu Tawfik

Abdu Tawfik

Web Application Developer. Knowledge hungry always learning. Aspiring to become a Web Unicorn. Find me @abduvik on social platforms.