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Inter(n)view: Khaled Kamal

Inter(n)view: Khaled KamalPeople & ideas at Deutsche Börse

In our "Inter(n)view" series, our interns, trainees and students share their insights into Deutsche Börse Group. Up next is Khaled, who had to overcome big obstacles to do an internship at Deutsche Börse Group as a software developer.

You were born in Afghanistan, but you were forced to leave the country early. In our pre-meeting you said that you would like to tell us more about that?

When I was four years old, I barely survived a rocket attack on our house in Afghanistan. Afghan soldiers were stationed next to our house and they pulled me out of the ruins. I didn't realize the extent of the attack until some time had passed. You will never forget something like that in your lifetime.

How did you get to Germany with your family?

Two days after the attack, smugglers assured us that they would bring my parents and us four children to Germany. At that time, my uncle had been living in Frankfurt since 1979 and he was the only person my parents knew outside of Afghanistan. But the smugglers only took us as far as India, where they vanished with the money, we had given them. Thus, we had to spend two years in India (New Delhi). I was able to attend the first and second grade of school there. 

Two years later, new smugglers brought us first to Russia and later to Ukraine, where we had to stay for another two years and I went to third grade. During the following escape attempt from Ukraine to Germany, our family was separated. My parents, my little sister and I had to spend four days in a Ukrainian prison - me being eight years old, my sister was just five. At last, we made it across the border to Germany. In the end, my whole family was reunited once again.

You went to school in Germany and were, despite many obstacles, always focused on accomplishing your dream of studying. Please tell us the story of how this dream came true for you.

I went to school in Germany in the second half of the fourth grade – without speaking a word German. Since I had learned English at the school in India, I was able to pass my exams and was not forced to stay down for a year. Apart from my language problems and no permanent right to stay in the country, I also had to deal with racism during my time in school. But I didn't let it bring me down. When I finally got my college entrance qualification, I was so happy since I would be able to study computer science with this.

Unfortunately, I got 18 at that time and by German law, my deportation was only temporarily suspended. This means that I only had the right to stay for three months in the country and this permit had to be renewed every three months. Otherwise, I would have to leave Germany immediately. Therefore, I had to go to the authorities every third month for ten years and hope that my right to stay would be extended for another three months. This made it impossible for me to continue my studies. It is also very difficult to get an apprenticeship if you might have to leave the country in three months, let alone a good job.

So, I had to gain my first experience in the business world as a cleaner in a 5-star hotel in Frankfurt. I earned 5.40 € for every room I cleaned.  But I didn't let this bring me down, either: after I got an official right to stay over two years, I worked as a sales assistant first, later as a floor manager in a shop and then as a chauffeur in Frankfurt.

When I finally received my German passport, I started studying business information technology while also working in my job as a chauffeur. From time to time, I had to drive to Eschborn and then I looked at the people coming out of "The Cube" with enthusiasm. In the back of my mind I always wondered how I could be able to work there one day. It was a big and unattainable dream at the time.

You started your career at Deutsche Börse with an internship as a software developer. What exactly did you do there?

After many applications, I did an internship at Deutsche Börse Group and developed robots that execute reoccurring processes fully automatically. There, I helped with process consulting, process modelling, programming, error handling and process documentation. The subsequent testing of the individual robots was also part of my job. It is incredible how much you can learn in such a short period of time. The atmosphere was always great and very cooperative, which made my work much easier. Every day I looked forward to my colleagues and my work. I have never experienced such appreciation anywhere else. In addition to the daily tasks, I completed trainings from various other areas that gave me insights into different parts of the organisation. This made me understand the bigger picture and allowed me to think outside the box.   

What are your next steps at Deutsche Börse Group?

Since the beginning of April 2021, I have a full-time contract in IT Infrastructure & Operations. This is my first real job as a computer specialist, which I am very proud of and I look forward to my upcoming tasks. At the same time, I continue studying business informatics part-time and I am also aiming for a master’s degree afterwards.

What would you like to pass on to the people who know your story now?

Never give up and always remember that you can only achieve something if you try. Your comfort zone gives you a false sense of rest and security, when that is in reality your biggest enemy. If you think Deutsche Börse only hires the best, then stand up and be the best - you have everything you need! Apply for the job you like, not just the ones you think you have a chance at getting! I applied for a lot of jobs, got a fair chance and seized it.

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