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Relocating to Germany during the pandemic

This is a story of how I joined byrd as a frontend engineer


Like any other prospective computer science graduate, I kick-started my career working as a full-stack web developer for a digital marketing agency where I spent most of my creative days building user-journey-focused websites for industry giants like Nestle and Amarex. Being super passionate about frontend development, I continued to specialize in this field, and until joining byrd in 2020, I was working as a software engineer in Egypt. However, from around 2019 onwards I had a goal to relocate to Germany in 2020 and hone my skills in a creative melting pot for startups, also known as Berlin.

Spoiler alert; I managed to do it in July 2020.

The whole interview was so relaxed and friendly that it felt more like an informal conversation, not an actual knowledge assessment test. To me, it was like 2 colleagues chatting about random technical stuff after work.

Landing a job at byrd

I remember that I was applying like crazy, and there were times where I had more than 3 job interviews in one week. Somewhere around the second half of 2019 I also landed an interview with byrd for the Frontend Engineer position. What stood out to me was the so-called technical interview that I had with byrd – the whole interview was so relaxed and friendly that it felt more like an informal conversation, not an actual knowledge assessment test. To me, it was like 2 colleagues chatting about random technical stuff after work.


This being said, the whole interview process went by really smoothly - I had a couple of interviews with human resources personnel, my manager, and the founders of the company. The whole process was timed nicely and I remember that I did not have to wait long to get final feedback from byrd – they offered a job position to me in the first month of 2020. Since I had been applying and interviewing with a couple of other companies as well, I also got another job offer at around that time. So, not only that my plan to relocate to Germany and upgrade my career in style was coming along nicely, but I also had an option to choose which company I see a better fit for my skills and career prospects.

After some deliberation, I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do is to follow my instinct – that byrd is the better match for me. Thinking about it now, that gut feeling was 100% correct. I accepted the offer and started planning how to pack my Egypt-based life and move everything to Berlin. It felt magical! It was still the first month of the year and I was already so close to achieving my goal. I applied for a visa, booked my flight, and started learning German again. I remember that I truly believed 2020 was going to be an awesome year; then the COVID-19 pandemic hit!

COVID-19 pandemic, byrd & me

My flight to Germany got canceled, so I got stuck at home. At the time I had already resigned from my previous job, so instead of spending the gap month between the two jobs traveling around, I ended up staying at home overthinking whether I will lose my job at byrd, due to coronavirus pandemic, before I even start working for them.

Worldwide events did not help my headspace either – companies, even well-standing ones, were laying off employees all over the world. Germany and Egypt closed their airports. I had little hope that I will still manage to achieve my goal in 2020. Fortunately, byrd stuck around and held their end of the bargain. I can’t tell if that can be said for other companies, during the same impossible circumstances. I was surprised and grateful at the same time. Things like that play a decisive role in shaping your attitude towards the company and their values, and show how serious they actually are as a company. And for me, this was an awesome start.

This being said, I joined byrd in May as per plan but instead of having a lovely onboarding in the Berlin office, I spent the first 3 months working remotely from Egypt. At the time byrd also switched to the remote workplace due to COVID-19-related governmental restrictions in Germany and Austria. This change required some adaptation from the whole team, not just me – I remember that I started working with a bunch of people from totally different backgrounds, trying to make the whole thing work as smoothly as possible. However, what I remember most is that I always felt welcome and appreciated.

Moving to Berlin and meeting my team

By the end of July 2020 the corona situation got a tad bit better, countries reopened their airports and I managed to seize the opportunity to finally relocate to Germany and meet my colleagues in the office in Berlin. Furthermore, they even managed to do a quick onboarding session for me, just to make sure I am up to speed. With that, I have concluded my journey from Egypt to Berlin, and thus, I was also able to finally cross off “relocate to Germany” from my new-year-resolution list for 2020.

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About the author

Bassem is a frontend developer who loves building clean & simple UI. On the weekends, you can either find him hiking, maybe cycling, or just a lazy-couch-potato daydreaming about van life. He also likes to write and he dreams about publishing a book someday.


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