The BeCode team consists of 43 motivated people who do their utmost every day to prepare the juniors for their new career path. Therefore we would like to take you behind the scenes to introduce you to our enthusiastic and driven team members!
Today meet busy bee Edith. Even before getting her second degree, she was eager to explore the job market. Meanwhile, she has been part of the Antwerp BeCode team for six months and she has recently launched her own board game.
Curious about her story? Read it here!
Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
“I first studied social work and then I started a training program to become a history and health education teacher, but due to the Corona crisis, I had to stop my internship in May. I am also a volunteer at the student organization SINC. SINC stands for Students for Innovation and Cooperation. In May, Karen, the CEO of BeCode, was a guest speaker at one of SINC’s events. Then she sent a message to SINC’s LinkedIn page because she was looking for someone who wanted to step into the BeCode story and was socially engaged. I immediately contacted her and right after I had a job interview with her, Kanchan and Ayoub. A week later I got the news that I had the job. BeCode was the first place where I applied and is also my first job. Meanwhile, I’ve been working here for almost half a year. As of January, I will be working four-fifths because I still have to finish the internship from the teacher training program. Finally, as a student entrepreneur, I started my own company, DrunkenSailor board game, which I am currently doing as a secondary profession.’
‘So, what does my week look like? Getting up early every day, even though I’m not an early bird. I roll out of bed at a quarter to nine, fortunately, we can work from home. But I am someone who can work until midnight and catch up on a lot of hours at the weekend.’
What exactly convinced you to apply for a job at BeCode?
‘The social aspect is very important to me. I think it’s very important to give opportunities to those who are less fortunate in society, and I think BeCode’s mission fits in nicely with that.’
What is your exact function at BeCode?
‘I am responsible for marketing and recruitment. It’s my job to hunt down potential candidates, to convince them of the added value of a training at BeCode and to lower the threshold for effective enrollment. It also involves a lot of administrative work, such as drawing up contracts and aftercare. We guide our students to the work field up to six months after the end of the program. This is what makes our positive outcome rate so high.’
“I think it’s very important to give opportunities to those who are less fortunate in society, and I think BeCode’s mission fits in nicely with that.’“
What are the biggest challenges that you are facing in your job?
‘It’s easier to convince people to enroll in our program if you can meet them physically. Unfortunately, the current situation does not allow this, which implies that I have to look for innovative ways to reach my target audience as well as to organize events. For example, I have sat around the table with a lot of NPOs working in and around Antwerp. Still, it remains a challenge to convince people of the great opportunity we have to offer them. In addition, it is not always easy to support and motivate juniors who are looking for an internship or a job when things are not going well.’
What did you like the most so far at BeCode?
‘On the one hand, the growth process that I have gone through. On the other hand, how a team can grow so strong towards each other in such a short period of time.’
If you had to summarize BeCode in one word. Which word would that be?
‘Challenging because you are constantly learning and being pulled out of your comfort zone. But also because you’re trying new things and you don’t know how they will turn out, which is a bit frightening and because you have to be able to work together with people with many different personalities.’
You mentioned earlier that you are part of SINC. What exactly do you do there?
‘SINC is a student organization, not to be confused with an association, and includes various departments including PR, marketing, and events. We mainly organize events to inspire, inform, and activate student entrepreneurs in and around Antwerp. Last year I was part of the PR team and started looking for interesting collaborations that would also serve as a funding mechanism for our events. Now I am working there as a community director. I manage our platform where everyone under 50, from Antwerp and with an entrepreneurial mindset, can ask questions about entrepreneurship and can be supported by SINC. If you’ve followed the news, you might have heard that BPost has a big parcel problem. I set up a blog on our platform where entrepreneurs can exchange possible solutions because you can learn a lot from each other.’
Where does this passion for entrepreneurship come from?
‘It’s in my blood. My mother started her own bistro at the age of 18. Entrepreneurship is my passion and that doesn’t really make it feel like work. Where someone else likes to practice a sport, I like to work on my own project.’
Could you tell us a bit more about your project?
‘My background in social work makes me constantly look for deeper connections. A lot of my peers use applications for this. With my board game, I hope to bring people closer in an offline setting. Most board games are aimed at young people, geeks, and older people who play with their children, but there is a big gap between them. And because as a working person you are already sitting behind your computer from 9 am to 5 pm, I hope to be able to provide some relaxation with my board game. Alcohol is a nice facilitator, but it is definitely not my unique selling proposition. Whereat BeCode this is the active pedagogy, at DrunkenSailor these are the cards with which you get to know each other better.’
Which cards are part of the game and how can they help you to get to know each other better?
‘The game is packed in a tube and is rollable and washable. There are three types of cards in the tube: buoy cards, anchor cards, and mission cards. For the assignment cards, you can use the tube as binoculars or sound amplifiers, for example. One of the assignments is to drink a secret brew. You also have the anchor cards, which are the drinking cards. They focus on your personal characteristics. Finally, you have the book cards that contain questions such as ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ or ‘what has been the greatest salvation in your life’. You have to think about the answers to these kinds of questions all the way through. The combination of the different cards creates a light-hearted, yet very open atmosphere. I’ve played the game myself countless times and I still have a nice evening.’
You have set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds. How did the fundraising go exactly?
‘Crowdfunding is an alternative form of funding and is not used much in Belgium so far. The most well-known form of crowdfunding is equity-based crowdfunding in which investors buy shares, but I didn’t choose that. I have opted for reward-based crowdfunding in which you actually sell the game in advance to those who are interested in it or want to support you. I started looking for €7,000 to fund the pro-
duction of my game and ended up with €8,413.’
How did you get people interested in your project?
‘I actually wanted to start my crowdfunding campaign in April, but because of the corona crisis, I had to postpone the launch. I was advised to launch my game online, but because I wanted to launch a board game to bring people together in an offline setting, I didn’t believe in it. So I organized a corona-proof event. People could also join online. It is very important to speak to people personally, to involve them in every step of the process, to speak from your passion, and to show who is behind the game. The same goes for BeCode, here too you have to show people what is happening behind the scenes.’
Now that the money has been raised, what are the next steps?
‘Everything has been ordered, except for the cards. I have to read the cards again thoroughly. I’m going into production for 1,000 games, so I can’t afford to leave any mistakes. Mid-February everything should be ready, but the producers have already announced that due to the corona crisis there might be a delay. After that, I’m going to organize a pop-up escape room on a boat in Antwerp where the investors can also come and collect their rewards. I want to explore the market further and take it over. A lot of games are bought by game giants, but I would like to keep the game in-house for a while.’
How do you combine your project with your job at BeCode?
‘On the one hand, my learning experiences of DrunkenSailor and SINC help me to do my job at BeCode. For example, I learned how to organize an event and how to make and maintain personal contacts. On the other hand, I learn a lot at BeCode on a professional level which I can implement at Drunkensailor. Getting everything done is not always easy, but at BeCode they are very flexible.’
If the person reading this interview would like to help you, what can he/she do for you right now?
‘As soon as the investors have received their game, I will launch my webshop where everyone can buy the game for €39.99, including VAT, excluding shipping costs.’