There’s an old saying that ‘luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ Well, I felt pretty lucky the day I found out I wouldn’t be picking up potatoes any time soon.
I was born in the south of Brazil in 1989 and spent my entire life in Esteio, RS. I was raised in a household with a lot of love and my wonderful grandparents were heavily involved in my upbringing. My dad was a pilot, my mum was a teacher, my grandpa was an accountant and my grandma a stay-at-home mum. Perhaps that combination played a role in me developing an interest in tech?
When I was a kid, growing up in the south of Brazil.
From an early age, I was very curious. I wanted to open everything with a screwdriver so I could understand how it worked. My curiosity resulted in three broken computers. 😊 When I was ten years old, I was gifted my first laptop by my uncle who worked as an automation technician. I think this really sparked my thirst for tech and set the ball rolling for my future career.
After finishing school, I went to uni to study Control & Automation Engineering. I thought it was important to get an understanding of not only the technical side of things, but also the business as a whole. So I went on to do an MBA in Business Management. I soon discovered though that my real love was writing lines of code to build software that could improve people's lives.
A stroke of good luck hit me when I was awarded a scholarship from the Brazilian Government. The offer was for the best uni students to attend the University of Queensland for three semesters. So in 2013, I came to Australia to study Mechatronics Engineering as well as English. I lived in St Lucia, Brisbane and got my first taste of what this beautiful country had to offer.
When I won a scholarship from the Brazilian Government to study at UQ in 2013.
When I returned to Brazil, I couldn’t stop thinking about my Australian experience. In Australia, I felt safe and happy. There were friendly people everywhere, stunning natural wonders and heaps of things to enjoy. I loved Australia. It had cast its spell on me and I longed to go back.
Luckily, my dual citizenship (thanks to my German great grandpa!) meant I was eligible to come back to Australia on a Work and Holiday visa. I sold everything I had in Brazil to pay for my plane ticket and packed my bag. Armed with my laptop and the hopes of my family, I arrived in Australia in May 2019. I was on my way to fulfilling my dream of raising my future children in the lucky country.
After doing some research, my plan was this: arrive in Australia, go to a farm, pick up potatoes for 90 days, get an extension of my visa for two years then look for a job as a software developer. What actually happened was this: arrived in Australia, went to a farm, went to another farm, went to another five farms, didn’t get a job picking up potatoes. It was apparent, I needed another plan.
I posted a message on a Brazilian IT WhatsApp group that I was a member of, telling the group about my qualifications and skills and that I was looking for a job in Australia. As luck would have it, a guy called Bruno Guedes invited me for a coffee and a chat. Bruno was the tech lead for a tech startup called Eggy which was looking to put on a developer. With their company values being: 1) Family; 2) A Better Life; and 3) Making Magic, I couldn’t have found a better fit for me and my values.
Shortly after, I got the job! I started work with Eggy in June 2019. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any luckier, the next month, we won a place in Suncorp’s digital incubator program. Spending 3 months working alongside experienced and talented tech gurus in a commercial environment was like hitting the jackpot for my professional development. A dream initiation really.
That's me (second from right) with the Eggy team following their final showcase at Suncorp, October 2019.
And the dream just continued. Our CEO at Eggy, Kirk Reynoldson, had started a conversation with me about sponsorship. They loved me, they loved the work I was doing, they loved my work ethic and knew there was a shortage of relevant tech skills on the Gold Coast. So after hours of phone calls, after many emails, after filling out loads of paperwork, my TSS visa application was submitted to the Department of Immigration. As much as I wanted it, I didn’t hold my breath. If my application wasn’t successful, I’d be back on a plane to Brazil. Or looking for work picking up potatoes again.
But it wasn’t until December 2019 that all my Christmasses actually came at once. I went to the Burleigh Pavilion to share some Christmas drinks with my Eggy colleagues. I was leaving to go back to Brazil for a 2-week holiday the next day and I couldn’t wait to see my beautiful family again. I was handed a Christmas card from Kirk. When I opened it and saw what was inside, I broke down. My visa was approved. I was being sponsored by Eggy. I could stay and work in Australia.
I couldn’t wait to tell my family back home. I rang my grandpa even though it was the middle of the night in Brazil. Through tears I told him that my dream had come true. When I saw them at the airport the next day, I realised that my family’s dream had come true too. Looking in their eyes, hugging them and seeing how they are proud of what is happening in my life, brought me so much joy.
I don't have enough words to describe my gratitude for Kirk, Kate and the whole Eggy family, for what they have done for me and for giving me this incredible opportunity. As I’ve said to them many times, “you guys changed my life, now it's my turn to change yours.” I’m doing something I love, I’m living in a place I love, and I’m making my family proud. I feel so lucky.
- Rafael Düster, Full Stack Software Engineer, Eggy
Celebrating with my beautiful family in Brazil, December 2019
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February 1, 2020