I'm writing this post from a desk in a very quiet classroom in Zürich, where ten student web developers are focussing intently on their laptops and three more experienced programmers, including me, are waiting to help by answering their questions. It's my first afternoon session as a Powercoders coach and, so far, there hasn't been much for me to do!
The Powercoders initiative runs coding bootcamps for refugees living in Switzerland, followed by three- to nine-month-long internships at local tech companies. The idea is to give a leg up into the tech industry to people who have the motivation and potential to do well, but are disadvantaged by, well, everything that goes along with being a refugee in a new country. I first heard about it from my coworker Rami, who joined our team as a Powercoders intern and is now working with us on an official apprenticeship.
When the second course started here in Zürich (the first one was last year in Bern), I knew I wanted to help out, but this autumn has been so busy that today is the first day I could make it. I've booked a second coaching session next week and should be able to make at least one more before the students' graduation, just before Christmas. For the next couple of weeks, they will be specialising in the stacks they'll use in their internships. I think I should be much more helpful if any of them have Python, PHP or database questions than I would have been in previous weeks, when it was mostly JS and jQuery!
Conversation levels are slowly rising in the room, as students help each other out with the code on their screens. I feel I may soon be asked to explain something in their AJAX exercises....