Strange things happen in life. When you least expect it, life and destiny take you by surprise, trip you up and change your hopes and thoughts in ways you would think impossible.
Why am I talking about this? About 10 months ago, or to be more exact, in October of 2005, I was working at a taxi stand, where I hailed cabs for clients at a business center.
At the time my life was full of uncertainty and insecurity and my son had just been born. I was honestly worried, like every young father, because I didn't know how long I could work there earning 50 centavos per car. This is precisely what I earned for each car that I hailed. It wasn't much; I was lucky if I earned 100 to 120 reais a week. I was on my feet for eight hours a day, five days a week in front of that building.
I paid close attention to the people going in and out of the building with the hope that someone would notice my efforts and affable nature and offer me an opportunity for a better job, but this didn't happen.
Then one day I had started for home when I looked back over my shoulder and asked myself when I would work in that building. When I arrived home, I spoke with my wife and she told me that the community center in our neighborhood where she studies was offering a free course in hacking (HackerTeen). At first I thought, why would someone teach someone to be a hacker. Weren't they the ones who steal money from banks and spread viruses on the Internet? This is what I thought and what most people still think.
My curiosity took me to the community center and I registered to take the HackerTeen course. And to my surprise, what I had thought of Hackers was really just the opposite. I found myself among people, or rather, a family concerned with the young people gathered there. Nice, enthusiastic, funny people who were there to help and show us that it is possible for all of us to have a good job. They answered all the questions the group had about hackers.
To begin with, they gave us a "pre-belt" course (a brief explanation of information technology) where they even taught us about hardware and software.
After I earned my white belt (the first stage of the course), the unexpected happened. I got a telephone call from a company (Atento Brasil) that invited me in for a job interview. As you can imagine, I was really excited. However, I then started to wonder how this company had gotten a hold of my telephone number and personal information. That's where the HackerTeen family helped out once again: the people from HackerTeen had sent my résumé to this company.
I went to the interview at the company and was successful. A second interview was then scheduled and I was again successful.
Today I work at a company with a fixed salary, health plan for me and my family, transportation allowance, meal vouchers and dental plan. I work as a level one help desk employee in customer service.
I'm still with HackerTeen and studying for my blue belt (fourth level of the course). It's very challenging and really neat. I'm learning lots of new things on the course. It's all very useful in my work and in furthering my education. I only have two belts left, brown and black, before I finish the course.
I don't intend to stop there. I'm working hard toward a scholarship to study computer networks at college. It's not easy but I know I can do it.
But what's more important is that my family at HackerTeen made me see that things may not be easy but they are also not impossible. You just have to work hard and believe that one day everything will work out.
Obviously if companies like 4Linux (the company behind HackerTeen) believes in and gives opportunities to people like me and my colleagues on the course, I'm sure that discouraged young people, like I was, could also gain confidence and better prepare themselves for the job market.
I'd like to thank my HackerTeen family for everything they've done!!!
Douglas Teixeira Lima de Souza