Tech education bootcamp opens doors for BC immigrants

Every year, BCCIE donates to an education-related cause on behalf of our Summer Conference presenters. This year, we chose TechStart, a five-month program that provides refugees and immigrants to BC with intensive web coding training to prepare them for a career in tech. Funds contributed by BCCIE directly support student access to this initiative.

TechStart increases the probability that newcomers will find meaningful work, says scholarship recipient Abozar Rahimi, who came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan. Abozar is now working as a web developer in BC, and we had the chance to interview him on his experience.

Could you start by telling us about your background?

I worked previously in Afghanistan, where I’m originally from, for almost 10 years. My background is in software and web development. I arrived in Canada in 2016 and I was trying to find a job in my field, and that’s when I found TechStart.

How did you find out about the Program?

I was connected to the Program through the Immigration Services Society of BC (ISSofBC), which provides many resources for immigrants and refugees – the essentials you need help with. TechStart gave me an introduction to the IT sector in Vancouver. I was lucky I found this program because it prepared me to enter in the local market.

How did TechStart help you get a job?

Working in another country, everything is different. In Canada, technologies and tech platforms are different. You have the basic skillset but may need to switch from one framework to another. Companies do not operate the same way here. TechStart prepares you to adjust to a new workforce. I learned job readiness skills and improved my professional English. They sent us for intensive bootcamp training for a few months, where they taught us the latest programming trends.

What was the biggest challenge?

It wasn’t as much about upgrading my skills as it was about networking. I already had the technical base. Expanding my social circle in a new country was a challenge. One of the best things I got out of TechStart was getting to know new people in my industry; it’s so important to connect with tech companies here.

Do you have any words of advice for other newcomers to BC?

It can be really difficult at the beginning entering a new job market. Even if you have many years of experience back home, sometimes local employers are looking for Canadian experience. Don’t be afraid to start at a lower level temporarily to gain Canadian experience. Take advantage of programs such as TechStart, which will help you upgrade your skillset.

It took me only three weeks after graduating from TechStart to find a job. I was really happy. The way this program is designed maximizes your chances of employment.