Tech Developer Shahzadi Saira: Who delivered besides all odds

“Everyone has their own way of coping, and I actually found working on my coding skills was a good way to take my mind off things,” says Shahzadi.

Tech Developer Shahzadi Saira: Who delivered besides all odds

This week, we speak with Shahzadi Saira Awan, a tech developer for who escaped domestic abuse in Pakistan. Despite her qualifications, she struggled to find work when she arrived in the UK.

The 31-year-old was looking for work while also seeking asylum, caring for her young son alone, moving between different temporary housing situations, and struggling financially on NASS (Asylum Support) payments—all while recovering from the trauma of abuse.

“Everyone has their own way of coping, and I actually found working on my coding skills was a good way to take my mind off things,” says Shahzadi, who is now based in Sheffield. I still find that my work serves as a good diversion from any negative thoughts.

“Learning something new gives you encouragement and helps you regain your confidence.” She’s overcome many obstacles, and here’s how she did it.

Hey Shahzadi, how did you begin your career in Pakistan?

I have a Masters Degree in Information Technology from the NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Islamabad, and I taught Computer Science in Pakistan for a year before moving to the UK.

How did you find it trying to get work here as a refugee? Did companies dismiss your qualifications?

It was difficult to find work because my visa only allowed me to work for a maximum of six months. I also had to balance looking after my two-year-old son when I moved to England to escape domestic abuse.

I was constantly on the move while living in temporary housing, which made things even more difficult. It was frustrating to face so many roadblocks, especially since I knew there were many tech jobs that businesses were struggling to fill. I knew I had the qualifications and skills for many of the available positions, but opportunities were scarce.

I continued to try to put my skills to good use wherever I could. While looking for work, I worked in a variety of unpaid positions. I assisted a few charities in developing their websites and volunteered at a local church, in addition to taking on some other volunteer roles outside of technology.

When did this start to change?

I joined through a programme called Tech Returners. I learned about the scheme from a friend, and it sounded ideal for my situation—it’s designed to reintroduce people who have taken a career break back into the industry.

After everything I’d been through, getting a job with such a well-known brand felt like a huge accomplishment. The fact that I received the offer on the same day that my asylum application to live in the UK as a permanent resident was approved made it all the more special.

The team has been extremely accommodating to my situation. I was recently able to bring my son to a conference in Amsterdam, and they assisted me in finding childcare while I was there. The little things make a big difference.

Did you need to take on extra training between moving?

I was using online tutorials to keep myself up to date while I was out of work. The world of technology is constantly evolving, so I knew I had to keep up. I was learning about web development in particular, which I was unfamiliar with previously.

The Tech Returners initiative provided me with a three-month refresher course in Java software, allowing me to jump right into my new role. Coaching was also provided to help me rebuild my confidence and prepare for interviews, which was equally important.

An average day in the working life of Shahzadi Saira Awan

8 am: She begins her day by dropping her son off at school and then begins working from home.

10 am: Meeting with three developers and one tester. The day’s objectives are set.

4 pm: Retrospective meetings to discuss what went well or poorly during the day and what actions needed to be taken the next day.

What’s the thing you love the most about your job?

I enjoy coding and learning new programming languages and frameworks. Aside from that, I enjoy working here because of the positive environment and highly professional attitude of my coworkers. There are numerous opportunities to learn and grow, as well as tremendous support from colleagues to point you in the right direction.

What do you dislike the most?

It’s difficult to say because there isn’t anything that stands out!

A tech developer is someone who works in the software, manufacturing, or engineering industries to support a company’s various technology systems and projects. Some technical developers specialise in areas such as CRM.

Job of tech developer is to entail creating, processing, and configuring software or systems based on the needs of your employer or client. Tech developer, regardless of industry, uses their skills and experience to ensure that the computer programme, equipment, or tools work properly.

Originally published at Metro