Helping displaced individuals find their place in tech
When immigrants and refugees leave their home countries, they leave behind their jobs, networks, support systems, and oftentimes their credentials.
Their ability to find good jobs is stunted which can harm their confidence, happiness, and assimilation into society.
In 2018, Nick Broekema (Salesforce Partnership Lead at DEPT®) and his partners saw this problem firsthand, with many immigrants moving to the Netherlands unable to secure quality jobs. At the same time, the industry was dealing with another problem: a lack of Salesforce professionals.
So that year, with the desire to solve both problems with one solution, Blue Road Academy (formerly RefugeeForce) was born. Over the past few years, this program has helped over 180 individuals receive Salesforce training in a community-oriented atmosphere. From the initial cohorts, 60% of graduates have landed jobs at technology companies with positions in development, marketing, sales, and administration.
DEPT® is a proud recruitment partner, and has hired two individuals from Blue Road Academy since its opening! We also support with an annual monetary donation and use of our offices in Berlin for the training. Learn more about some of the impact this program has had by hearing from some of its graduates below.
Eyad Agha came to Germany in 2014 because of the instability in Syria. Beyond learning German, he enrolled at a university and received a master’s degree in information systems management.
He joined Blue Road Academy because “Salesforce was the clearest manifestation of my studies. Coding and programming were not for me, but I wanted to work in technology. Salesforce training seemed like a good fit.”
Talking about his experience with the training program, he said, “Martin (the instructor) is one of the brilliant minds in Salesforce. I was impressed and felt privileged for being instructed by someone like him. Martin was the most humble and nice person– always willing to help, answer questions, and have a conversation with the students.”
While he already had skills in information technology, they were sharpened during the boot camp. The other thing he learned was giving back. “The whole salesforce ecosystem depends on teamwork. You learn something and then you teach someone else. One arm to the throne, another arm to help someone else, a chain of people holding hands together and moving forward.”
Currently, Eyad is working as a Salesforce administrator for Luca. He is excited about the opportunity!
Originally from Afghanistan, Frahnaz studied Economics and had her own e-commerce business. But due to the fall of the government, she had to leave her country, business, and degree.
During her time at Blue Road Academy, she got another opportunity to go to a Salesforce Berlin Bootcamp which was a fantastic experience! The salesforce community around Europe came together (partners, actual salesforce professionals) and she was able to get to know people in the network. “I am really thankful for the opportunity to know an amazing community.”
While she doesn’t describe herself as “technical,” she likes Salesforce because, “The platform makes things easier for companies, which is valuable. I want to be in the technology and business space, so learning these skills is great.”
“During the program, we also learned how to interview and write a CV. This was useful because it gives real-life scenarios, how to answer questions, how to write a cover letter, and the different procedures in countries, like Germany vs the UK.”
When asked about her future goals, her first response was, “To share all the knowledge she is gaining and encourage Afghan women that don’t have the privilege of education.” Her wish is to give all that she can as an Afghan woman and eventually share it with other women.
“I believe that if you want to change the world, you have to change yourself and learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power. I wish every girl in my country had the chance to study and have the opportunity to go to university.”
Anna came to the Netherlands by way of Ukraine. She started to learn Salesforce by herself in 2021 because she had her own small business, but she wanted to learn more and get an official certification to expand her career opportunities.
She enjoyed the in-person classes because it was easy to communicate with other people in the program. “It was difficult and challenging because of the technical tasks required, but the program was smooth. My instructor, Gaspar Rodriguez, explained all the concepts, materials, and theories in simple words so you can understand them.”
For her, the Blue Road Academy ecosystem was supportive and gave opportunities to people without experience. Their way of learning was an environment with cool and intelligent people, which motivated her to take on the challenges.
Anna currently works at DEPT®. Talking about her experience so far, she says, “It’s amazing actually. The people are really supportive and answer questions. I had time to meet my team, and get onboarded and I’m excited to see where the opportunity takes me.”
“Anyone can transfer their knowledge into their work. And you can see where it takes you–the time you’ve dedicated is reflected in your work.”
The future of Blue Road Academy
By 2030, Blue Road Academy hopes to have trained 10,000 newcomers in its program with a 50/50 ratio of men to women. They hope to continue their 60% job placement success rate which would place 6,000 or more individuals in Salesforce roles, at all types of technology companies.
Learn more about how you can get involved at Blue Road Academy.