Leaving school because of the love of your life. This is what Mitchell from The Hague did. At the age of 17, he decided to move to England and live together with his girlfriend. Unfortunately, their relationship was on the rocks and Mitchell returned to the Netherlands, without any qualification to start on the labour market. Despite this, he wanted to start working as a cybersecurity specialist. But how do you do this?
He asked for help at the Convey foundation. This foundation is located in The Hague and founded by Dervin Sno (see picture). He helps people with a distance to the labour market and disabled people. ‘’We work together on someone’s future’’, says Sno. ‘’They can be people who are unemployed, dependent on social benefits, people who do not know what they want in life. Or people who have low self-esteem or suffer from a handicap. It can be anything. When they are ready to study or work, we will help them.’’ According to Mitchell, Dervin has helped him a lot. ‘’He has learned me to get self-esteem, and to write an application letter and a CV.’’ Because of that, I found a job at Albert Heijn.’’ A normal coaching trajectory at Convey takes approximately one year, but Mitchell has finished this trajectory earlier as he made good progress. After some time, he found himself a job as a manager of the bicycle storage at The Hague central station. According to Sno, Mitchell shows that he has developed resilience and self-confidence. ‘’It is not the work that he eventually wants to do, but now he can provide for basic needs in his life. From here, he is able to make the next steps. This offers perspective for the future.’’
IT has attracted Mitchell since he was very young. He prefers to work with hardware and security. This has been strengthened by the fact that he developed hacking skills in the past. Furthermore, he has friends who work in the IT-sector. When Dervin Sno proposed to organise some ‘pizza sessions’ , Mitchell was enthusiastic from the start. Many people from various sectors go to Convey and talk to its clients about their sectors and what kind of work they do. ‘’I am a real networker’’, tells Mitchell. ‘’I do love talking to people. This is a great opportunity to connect with new people.’’ He therefore deliberately chose to attend a pizza session of Joris den Bruinen, general director of Security Delta (HSD), and talked to him afterwards. ‘’I told him that I would love to work in the cybersecurity sector. That I left school too early. That I don’t have the money to attend higher education. And that I don’t have a job. He pointed me to ‘Cyberworkplace’ in Rotterdam.’’ This is an initiative of several companies and (governmental) organisations that are active in the field of cybersecurity. They offer free classes, as well as training and coaching, in order to learn ‘tech-savvy’ young people the skills they need to be a cybersecurity specialist ready for the job market. ‘’One day a week, I go to ‘school’ or we meet each other via Zoom. Classes are offered and organised by big companies or for instance the police, and they include experts of these organisations. I attend as many classes as possible. Currently I possess diplomas in Linux, security and digital forensics. I would like to pass for my Cisco-diploma as well and I will start studying Python and computer programming. This is not necessary, but as a cybersecurity specialist it is useful to have knowledge about it. In addition, I will continue to attend classes that I have already passed, because I find it interesting and there are always other guest speakers.”
In the meantime, Cyberworkplace has twice enlisted Mitchell to be an assistant and student-coach. This concretely means teaching and supervising a small group of students. ‘’It can be quite buzzy combined with my work,’’ acknowledges Mitchell. ‘’But it doesn’t matter. I am a hard worker. I often get that back from other people. It is how I have been raised and I like to do a lot of things.’’ Moreover, Mitchell needs both to grow. ‘’I am now saving money for an official diploma. Those of Cyberworkplace are not recognised. Until I am able to pay for higher education, I will keep gaining knowledge and experience. In this way I still hope that I can eventually become a cybersecurity-specialist in The Hague.’’
This article has been written with funding from the 'Kansen voor West' programme, which aims to give the economy in the 'Randstad' an innovative boost. 'Kansen voor West' is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) / REACT EU.