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Fled Syria, made it in Germany:
IT specialist Khaled Altellawi made the most of his opportunity
Young Khaled could not have imagined this even in his wildest dreams when he fled Syria in 2014 to escape bombs and destruction: Today, eight years later, he is strengthening IT development at atriga as an IT specialist. One of the stories whose drama only really becomes clear when you look back: In his Syrian hometown of Homs, Khaled Altellawi dropped out of school and worked as a DJ and sound engineer at weddings. The 22-year-old Khaled first fled from the war in his own country to Egypt, then on to Libya, where he got caught up in the middle of the civil war.
His last hope is to flee to Europe. In 2015, Altellawi landed in the district of Groß-Gerau in southern Hessen, where he had to wait a year for his papers and used the time to take a six-month German course. Afterwards, he trains as an IT specialist for application development in two years and finds his first job at one of the world’s largest consulting firms in Frankfurt. Since September 2022, the enthusiastic computer scientist has been working in IT development at atriga, where – as he reveals to us in conversation – he feels completely at home.
But first things first: Khaled Altellawi has always been fascinated by modern technologies, computers and programming, but there were hardly any suitable career opportunities in his native Syria. His start in Germany was not easy either: “The whole bureaucracy with its rules was very confusing for me at the beginning. I wanted to learn German as quickly as possible, do an apprenticeship, and then find a job and build up a livelihood. Instead, I had to wait a whole year for my papers – that was very frustrating. His theoretical and practical training as an IT specialist for application development leads him to a start-up in Darmstadt, among other places, where he can deepen his interest in game development, but also topics such as AI and security. His final project is a reservation system for restaurants.
In February 2022, Altellawi successfully completes his training, which takes place almost exclusively online due to the Corona pandemic with numerous restrictions. His first job takes him straight to one of the world’s four largest auditing firms in Frankfurt, where he doesn’t really feel at home: “The IT infrastructure there was getting on in years. In principle, it was only a matter of identifying weak points and keeping the systems alive. There was also no interface between the specialist department and the programmers, so mutual understanding was lacking.”
Application developer Khaled Altellawi at his workplace at atriga: “I was very surprised at how long atriga has been dealing with absolute state-of-the-art technologies and also uses them very successfully in practice.”
A completely new experience at atriga
When a friend told him that atriga had a suitable position to fill, he applied. The subsequent online interviews are the first surprise: Altellawi is thrilled by the respectful treatment and the friendly and open-minded faces of his counterparts. Shortly after the second interview, Khaled Altellawi received a concrete job offer. He accepts immediately. At the signing of the contract in Langen, the next surprise followed: “I arrived in a suit and met two relaxed gentlemen in jeans and T-shirts, who greeted me in a very friendly manner and were interested in my opinion from the start. I was not used to that.“
His first assignment: programming for a small project. Here, too, he is more than surprised: “The colleagues asked me how I wanted to tackle the task. They were actually interested in which tools, which programming language and on which technological basis I would realise the project. That was also completely new to me.” Khaled Altellawi is enthusiastic: “Here at atriga, everyone is very open to new technologies and approaches. The whole team is very interested in new ways of doing things, is patient and tries out things that might not work at the first attempt – a real paradise for programmers. That amazed me a lot, but it also made me happy. Just like the fact that there are no reservations or prejudices at atriga in terms of religion, age, skin colour or sexuality. The only things that count here are ability, commitment and collegiality.”
As a programmer at a receivables manager?
The receivables management and collection industry is not generally considered a technological pioneer, and even lags behind in digitalisation and automation. With a few exceptions, as Khaled Altellawi confirms: “I was very surprised at how large and complex the IT systems are here and how long atriga has been successfully using absolute state-of-the-art technologies in practice. Now it’s a question of further expanding the considerable technological progress. I would like to contribute to this and can, for example, bring in my experience in game development, because it’s also about speed and efficiency.
Was he aware that the industry he works in does not have a very good reputation? “I have learned to appreciate the many rules here in Germany. One of them is to pay your bills. And I think it’s absolutely right that companies like atriga help people pay their debts.” Khaled Altellawi clearly feels comfortable in his new home in Darmstadt and in his challenging job for atriga. He has used his opportunity to get started with a lot of ambition, motivation and initiative and can now set his sights on another very personal goal for this year: his wedding.