IT-career jumpers are our future - an interview with Mozamel Aman, founder of StartSteps

Mozamel Aman
© Mozamel Aman

In a time characterised by digital transformation and technological progress, the current demand for IT specialists is higher than ever before. Once considered a domain of experts with years worth of academic training, the IT-world is experiencing a remarkable shift. Career jumpers are increasingly becoming the future of the technology sector

 Companies are intensively searching for people with individual skill sets and diverse perspectives, particularly in the dynamic environment of the Berlin tech scene. This paradigm shift opens the door to new and promising opportunities for people with diverse personal and professional backgrounds who are prepared to take the plunge into the world of IT. “All they need is passion and patience.”, says Mozamel Aman, the founder of StartSteps from Berlin.

Aman came to Germany from Afghanistan more than eight years ago and founded the company Migrant Hire, which brought migrants and Berlin tech companies together. However, during this time he noticed that there were many people who were indeed interested in IT jobs, but did not have the skills and lacked any understanding of the industry and the jobs it offers. After undertaking further positions at jobsforefugees (a job portal for refugees) and working at a renowned coding school he finally dedicated all of his energy to people who need support on the career path into the IT-industry and founded the company Start Steps in 2020 - in collaboration with Padraig Hall. 

StartSteps provides those interested in the industry guidance on what jobs actually exist in the field of IT and which job would be the most suitable for the candidate. The initiative has already successfully supported more than 1000 people with career orientation through orientation courses and further offers. Reason enough to ask Mozamel Aman directly how such a career jump into the IT industry can be made. Let’s go!

Which fields of IT are attractive for a career jump?

The opportunities are now endless. There are so many new careers which characterise the IT-landscape. Examples include jobs in the field of software development, cloud computing, UX/UI, data analytics, data engineering, cyber security or online marketing, among others. 

What is important is knowing what interests you and what you are passionate about. Then there is an opportunity for almost every profile to make a career jump into the IT industry. There are also many so-called ‘low-code’ careers. For some jobs you do not need technical knowledge, but rather skills in the area of sales and marketing. 

Who is qualified to make a career jump in IT?

Any person who has the passion and patience. Regardless of which industry you come from - with these two criteria you will find a new career orientation in the tech industry. Of course, you also need an affinity for computers. You do not need to be a graduate or have a diploma. It is also beneficial if you speak German or English - ideally both languages. The teams in the IT industry are often international and English is the corporate language. However, in order to really find out whether IT is something for you, we offer orientation courses, among other opportunities.

How exactly can I direct myself professionally?

On the one hand, you can find diverse aptitude tests and crash courses online, which you can complete for free. In crash courses, different job profiles are usually presented and you will learn about the requirements and possible incomes relevant to each position. If this appeals to you, feel free to browse through our free career compass. On the other hand, we at StartSteps also offer an orientation course, in which you have the opportunity to try out different IT jobs

In an orientation course, you write your first code, create your own marketing campaign and your first dataset, among other things. Along the road we have many personal lightbulb moments. At the end of the course, you will know with great certainty which field of IT is available to you and above all which you can definitely rule out for yourself. A valuable insight. Our course from StartSteps is four weeks long.

And when I have found my direction, what comes next - what opportunities do I have to get started in IT as a career jumper? 

In Berlin there are over 25 bootcamps and coding schools alone, where you can gain training for different careers in IT both on a part time and full time basis.

Coding schools are specialised education facilities which offer intensive courses in different areas of software development and programming. They are designed to swiftly convey practical knowledge and skills to the participants. Bootcamps, however, are even more intensive training programmes, which concentrate primarily on specific IT skills such as web development, data analysis or cyber security. Both formats offer a practice-oriented learning approach, which aims to quickly prepare participants for the job market in the tech industry.

The Berlin coding schools and bootcamps offer options for online, face-to-face or hybrid learning. The training and further education options are between 3 and 12 months long. The number of hours required for each course is between 20 and 50 per week

The choice of course should be dependent on how much background knowledge you already have and how intensively you want to get started. Prior knowledge is not mandatory. You can also start a course with no prior knowledge.

How do I find a suitable coding school or bootcamp in Berlin for me?

Feel free to use our Bootcamp Finder to find the suitable option for you. Of course, I can recommend all of our partners from StartSteps who we have worked with for years. You will also find further qualified offers with Course Report, among others - which is also a bootcamp-finder. Simply use the search field to browse for the term ‘Berlin’ in order to find offers in the region.

Once you have found what you are looking for, check the online reviews of each school and camp, e.g. with Google. It is also a good tip to search LinkedIn for the school or camp offering the course you are interested in and to look under the tab ‘People’ in order to see which companies the alumni are working for today, or which career route they subsequently pursued. The more people who found qualified jobs, the greater the possibility that the further education course was successful. 

Which bootcamps and coding schools do you recommend in Berlin?

There are many good schools. For example, the Beam Institute of Technology offers great courses for everyone who is starting from scratch. I would also recommend IronHack, as well as Spiced Academy and Code Academy Berlin.

What does a further educational course cost at a bootcamp or coding school?

It really varies. The price is dependent on the length of the course and the institution that offers it. On average, the courses offered cost between EUR 7,500 and 36,000 - depending on whether they last three, six or twelve months.

Is there funding available, e.g. through the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit)?

Yes, about 75 percent of all training and further education courses at bootcamps and coding schools are funded across Germany through an education voucher (Bildungsgutschein) from the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) or the Jobcenter. That it is to say that your education is free. The only requirement is that the institution offering the course is certified.

But there are also other opportunities, e.g. the so-called Income Share Agreement - a kind of ‘Bafög’ (German Federal Training Assistance Act) provided by private banks. Or attend schools which are directly financed by big tech companied and offer training courses completely free of charge, such as the 42 Coding SchoolTech Labs or the ReDi School of Digital Integration. I can also recommend the FrauenLoop initiative. FrauenLoop offers free coding classes for women

Do coding schools and bootcamps also offer support with the subsequent job search? 

Again, it really variesSome bootcamps and coding schools offer hiring events, which allow you to network with companies. Others offer career services, which prepare your CV and portfolio for the job market. On the other hand, other companies offer internships and fewer offer a job guarantee upon completion of the further education course

How can I boost my chances when entering the job market as a career jumper in the IT sector?

Use your initiative and broaden the skills you have learned with practical experience. Fill out your portfolio, for example by completing an internship, an open source project or create a free website for an association. That definitely makes you stand out from the competition.

It is also advisable to develop your soft skills. In the IT sector, you will be working almost exclusively in teams. Work on your communication, be confident, honest and open to other cultures, because the tech scene in Germany is very international. 

What trends are you currently seeing in the IT industry regarding coding schools and bootcamps?

In the job market I can definitely see great demand in the area of software development. 50 percent of all our partners at StartSteps are offering positions in coding as a result of this. Cyber security is also a part of this trend. The learning opportunities have quadrupled in the last year. Cloud computing and data science are also areas currently in demand. 

How will learning opportunities for IT career jumpers develop in view of the technological landscape?

Artificial Intelligence is continually opening the doors to new job profiles, e.g. careers in prompt engineering. The learning opportunities will also adapt to accommodate this. New technology, new programming languages, new opportunities. This is changing almost annually. 

Among others, a big question of the future is: Low-code or no-code? In times of ChatGPT, Bard and other Large Language Models (LLM), you do not necessarily need to be able to program anymore but you need to know how these tools operate. It remains exciting.

In your opinion, what are the job opportunities for career jumpers in IT going to look like in five years today?

If it really is the case that in five years Artificial Intelligence is able to program and so on more intelligently and quickly than us as people , we will need people with skills that computers do not have. Free thinking and creativity for example. And we also cannot know today what will be needed in five years, whether the market will always be open for career jumpers in the IT sector. Because no standard course or training reacts as quickly to the market as career jumpers. Our society needs people who are prepared to learn new things quickly.  Therefore, career jumpers in the IT sector are our future in my opinion. 

Thank you very much for the interview, Mozamel. 

Are you interested in an IT job in Berlin? Then learn about the companies in the industry on our subpage ‘Tech and Data’ and apply!