WerkWent: All lies and empty promises (BONUS: and a dangerous building)
Hii guys, As you guys know, I recently got fired from WerkWent and even before that, something was just telling me to publish the truth of what's going on at WerkWent.
You guys know I like to be open and transparent but I have kept this from the public for a long long time.
Now that I don't have anything to worry about though, I can just come out with it, right (something, something, freedom of speech)? For this post, I have surveyed some former and current people there for daytime spending to get their views, experience and opinions on WerkWent.
A lot of resources (eg. the surveys and the text material on websites and such) are originally in Dutch, so I'll translate them to the best of my ability without having it lose original information.
First, let's get something out of the way.
This is not a personal attack on the owner (alias "GB"), the manager (alias "RW") or anybody I'm talking about in this post...
This is a showcase of WerkWent and how they just lie (making it all sound fantastic, until they actually have you reeled in) to each and every person that comes there, albeit intended or unintended.
Especially when people their futures are at stake, you shouldn't lie to them.
let's not lie...
it might contain a slight personal attack on RW here and there...
but he just deserves it honestly :)
Now it might piss off GB and RW that I have published this post (they have been informed about that I was working on such post and GB called me saying "it might damage their reputation") but honestly, I don't care much...
They should have thought about the fact that somebody would step forward and expose their shitty business.
It was only a matter of time really...
This wouldn't have happened if they kept their promises to the people that came there.
GB is a great guy with good intentions, however, he doesn't really think things through all too well, leading to a variety of issues.
I don't hold anything against him at all as he has supported me a lot in my projects during my time (albeit, with his own gains in mind like any business man).
RW on the other hand...
He acts like he is the guy who knows it all (he, at some point even claimed to be better at IT than some of the best IT people in the company...), but when it all comes to it, he is quick to shift the blame onto somebody else (often the people that are there for daytime spending).
He pushes you to irrealistic goals (eg. building an entire CMS to be production-ready on your own within a year... while building an entire course on the basics of HTML, CSS and JS... while also helping everybody that's around with their IT issues...) and barely communicates (and when something goes wrong due to that failure to communicate, he, of course, blames you).
And he also is to blame for some other IT related issues because he actively refuses to give budget to the most critical parts of IT (like... you know... keeping the servers alive and well).
What is WerkWent?
First of all, let's establish what WerkWent is supposed to be.
WerkWent is supposed to be a place where people that have had a rough time getting into the working society (eg. them not finishing an education) can have a new chance at re-establishing themselves in the working society.
Many of the people that have come there struggle with issues like learning disabilities but are willing to work hard to get back on track (outside a few "special cases" that is).
They get a subsidy for every person there per day-part (eg. the morning being from 0800 to 1200 and the afternoon is from 1201 to 1500).
That is their primary source of income.
I started there as one of those people back in 2015 (before being hired in 2016).
Their second (fairly insignificant source of income) is the websites they make for customers and computer repairs (under the brand name "ICT4Thuis").
This, however, has slightly changed with the start of a few more daughter companies like: - ZetMaarTeKoop - EetMeesters I'll come back to these daughter companies later.
Lies vs Reality
The lies start on their website (which is probably the first thing people look at when they hear of WerkWent).
Let's have a look at it, shall we? On their website, they state the following.
WerkWent helps people with a distance to the workers market in their search for a suitable job.
Out of all the people I've met there, I've only seen one person leave for another company thanks to WerkWent.
However, said person didn't succeed there due to a few issues: - He still only knew the basics of programming (like some basic HTML, CSS and JS) but didn't know critical things like debugging.
- He wasn't good at speaking Dutch (nor English) and as such, had a major language barrier (and JS wasn't a viable option for talking, unfortunately).
So, while it was a job, it wasn't exactly a "suitable" job.
The rest of the people that I saw continue, all did it on their own initiative with their own effort.
I even know some people there that didn't even get any help making their CV, which is pretty important to find a job, right?
WerkWent thinks that you, as a coach should have trade-specific experience as IT person to properly coach
While they think that, they don't really do that.
There is only one single "coach" (RW) that has some IT knowledge, but it's still extremely barebones.
He can build a PC and install a PC, he can hookup some basic network things...
but that's mostly where it ends.
- Ask him to build an Active Directory server (if you want to be a SysOp) and he can't.
- Ask him to build a CI/CI pipeline (if you want to be a DevOp) and he can't.
- Ask him to build a website using CakePHP, Bootstrap 4 and jQuery (if you want to be a web developer) and he can't.
- Ask him to build an Android app (if you want to be an app developer) and he can't.
Seriously, ask him to do anything IT-related that requires more skill than just the basics and he can't.
There are a few other coaches but they don't have any IT related knowledge outside using MS Office, but then again, they were not hired for their technical knowledge.
WerkWent has knowledge, experience and a network within the IT branch.
[...] We have experience and connections within all levels within IT.
I feel like this is repeating myself but they don't.
Our main SysOp doesn't know any Linux and still needed my help a lot to get everything running smoothly.
His right-hand (an intern... I think?) did have quite some more knowledge but he slowly started to move to another company he was helping at and was only at WerkWent for about 2 days a week (might be 3?).
They don't have any real DevOps (that was in my hands).
They don't have any real security engineer (that was also in my hands).
Within Development, after I left, the best developer after me (and no, I'm not trying to make myself sound good, I still have a lot to learn as well) only knew some basic HTML, CSS, JS and PHP.
- Thinking it's a lot more efficient to open and close a MySQL connection for each query ("to keep resources free") even after I've proven him that this was completely wrong.
- Slapping all minified 3rd-party CSS (like Bootstrap and Font Awesome) into one big file *during development* and editing the styles in that minified CSS.
- Slapping his custom CSS into that same file.
- Ignoring 99% of the Bootstrap utility classes (ok, my website also has this same mistake here and there).
- Not escaping things that come out of the database (boii, did I have some fun with that).
- Not using an MVC or similar principal (mixing business logic inside the view logic all over the place) - Taking a literal week to figure out he missed a single comma in his SQL statement (a.k.a lacking debugging skills) - Rather does it quick and dirty than making something that can be maintained for a longer period of time (saying: "not my problem when I'm gone") I mean...
there were some other people that were in the workings of learning to program but I doubt they are doing any better at the moment (though, with the hard work a few of them put in while I was there, they actually might be nowadays).
But then again, just because you know how to write some code, doesn't mean you're a good developer.
It also requires you to know how to design things (eg. one of them was making an Android app for a "soon™ to be started daughter company" but was putting a direct database connection into the app, using different database users to limit the scope of what could be done, which is still not a good thing).
I'm not blaming them for it, they are doing their best and it's great to see people learn how to become developers.
We can make a good estimate on what you should improve with your current knowledge and experience to get the job you want
Yes, let's have people that have literally no prior experience to programming work on a product that you want to go live.
Seriously, I don't exactly call that "making a good estimate on what you should improve".
All they know is some buzzwords but that's it.
They don't know what they mean and what it does.
I can literally tell them I am experienced in building AI using both Deep Neural Networks and LTSM networks and they would just believe it, even though I have no clue how those things work (only a very, very crude understanding).
Heck, I told them I was learning some minor C# and suddenly I was the C# god of the building (even though another guy that was there is way, way better at C# than me).
Another time, somebody came in, told them he was good at building websites and suddenly, bam, he was in charge of making the ICT4Thuis website, which was intended to represent the ICT4Thuis company (it's the same guy I was ranting about before btw).
Within the WerkWent Academy, clients with a distance to the workers market can be educated.
Excuse me? With what courses exactly? All you do is slam people in front of a CompTIA A+ book, Codecademy or FreeCodeCamp (depending on what they want to do) and call it "an academy".
I (and later an intern) was building the only "original content" for in it but I never finished it because RW never has gotten me the stuff I need (like... you know... feedback on what I had already drafted which I requested multiple times).
Oh right, and then there's this image from 2015...
That guy in the picture holding the laptop (I blurred out his face because even though the image is public, I do respect his privacy) has pretty much no clue how a computer works.
he knows that the CPU is the brain of a PC and what a hard drive is because people probably told him what it is, but that's really about it.
Ask him to install a CPU and he probably doesn't really know what to do...
But then, in his defence, he wasn't there for IT reasons, mainly doing stuff surrounding social media.
A customers laptop
Recently, some people informed me that WerkWent had some funky reviews on their Google page, so naturally, I had a look.
And boii, were those reviews accurate.
Brought my laptop here with a broken screen (fixture), you saw everything just fine but the screen just came undone, after two weeks, it should have been repaired.
Slow reactions and after half a year, it still wasn't repaired, even worse, the laptop was even more broken than it was, also will take a long time until I can pick it up again.
Upon reading that review, I almost fell off my chair from laughing.
Not just because it's so true but because I know the exact laptop, from who it was (an old WerkWent daytime spender), who worked on it and how and where it was before I left WerkWent.
The person that worked on it doesn't know much about repairing laptops.
He can do some basic things like installing a CPU in a desktop, replacing the HDD and installing a GPU...
But he has no clue how to work on a laptop.
A while ago, he had to troubleshoot another laptop of one of our daytime spenders (because it kept suddenly shutting down while he was doing work) and only after I had a look at it, we found that it was just going into a thermal shut down because the CPU was overheating pretty badly.
After we cleaned the heatsink properly (he did blow into it with a compressor but never actually took the cooling system off - there was a massive ball of dust stuck between the heatsink and the fan blocking most of the airflow) and changing the thermal paste (which probably was getting as hard as a diamond), the laptop worked pretty fine.
Anyways, the laptop of the review indeed was broken by the "repair" (to a point where it's literally not worth repairing anymore).
There was a single guy inside the entire company I'd say who could fix it decently but they didn't give him the task for some reason (probably because they didn't like him very much?).
Before I left WerkWent, it laid at the same spot in the main office for about half a year (could be longer though).
I hope Sarauko DRAGAPP (that's not his real name obviously) did get a refund and a compensation for the damage done...
But yes, this is about the degree you can expect the ICT4Thuis technical service to be...
I've seen much better during my time at Paradigit...
and considering they already were a bunch of bonobos, one can only imagine...
Seriously, don't let somebody with no knowledge of a certain thing work on a clients property; if they want to learn something, use some old junk that nobody will miss.
So, as I've already stated earlier, I have surveyed some people that currently are or are former daytime spenders or employees at WerkWent.
I've gotten 8 replies and here are the results on the questions asked:
- "How was your contact with the coaches at WerkWent?": 8, 6, 5, 4, 2, 1, 0, 0 (avg. 3.25)
- "How was your contact with other peers at WerkWent?": 9, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 4 (avg. 7)
- "How was the quality of the education you have followed? (the content itself)": 8, 5, 4, 4, 3, 2, 2, 0 (avg. 3.5)
- "How was the quality of the education you have followed? (the coaching)": 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, 0, 0, 0 (avg. 1.5)
- "How much would you say that you have learned thanks to the coaching of WerkWent?": 4, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 (avg. 0.75)
When asked the question "What did you think about your workspace at WerkWent?", the replies where as follows:
- "Cleaning could have been done better"
- "I have two pair of broken trousers because there are nails sticking out of the desk"
- "Very slow PCs for an IT company"
- "My favourite workspace was always free"
- "Often, my favourite workspace was free but not in order"
- "There was a tobacco and torn apart paper laying on the desk"
- "Often, the workstation was not properly connected up when I got there"
- "Chairs were often broken or severely damaged"
When asked the question: "Would you recommend other people to go to WerkWent?", 6 of them answered "For the love of god, stay away from here" (yes, this was legit an option I put in there) and two of them answered "No".
Finally, people were allowed to add an explanation of their experience at WerkWent.
3 of them took the liberty to write something in there.
These were the results (translated from Dutch, as true to original as I could make it - no data has been redacted):
At WerkWent, there never has been looked or helped at gaining skills and knowledge to aid in the search of a job.
They didn't look at a CV or solicitation skills; let alone the absence of a guidance plan from the get-go.
In my first half-year, there weren't even any mentors at all.
Additionally, there where no concrete projects or activities.
WerkWent exists out of empty businesses without customers.
The only source of income where the subsidies from WerkBedrijf that WerkWent received for offering the daytime spending, due to this, there are no meaningful activities.
During my last year, the owner [GB] was barely present on the location itself, the manager [RW] was mostly sitting behind his own desk.
There was no employee with professional experience in the scope of programming (web)applications, outside a single employee that still had much to learn himself (on which he agreed).
Knowledge about this subject came purely from peers.
During my last half-year, one mentor has been hired, however, said person did not possess any relevant IT skills.
The concept of WerkWent was nice on paper but in practice, the people lacked business knowledge.
It must be said, however, that participants may take initiatives themselves.
In this way, Werkwent offers no prospects for work.
At the moment that you really need help with something [you're stuck on], you are being told they may not do so and you should Google it.
Not Kim-Jung Un
At the first meeting, I was told that they are constantly new projects being started and that you as "student" could, in fact, get work experience.
For way too long, I didn't touch a PC there and the only book they had was from one of the clients.
There are people that are not ready for laboural daytime spending and in the past there has been somebody that you could put between people with [serious] down's syndrome and not notice any difference in behaviour.
Furthermore, are there a few people that I don't see do more than stocking shelves or other, more braindead work.
Gee, Not Kim-Jung Un, that's harsh...
But actually, it's the truth.
There indeed has been a person that was so childish, he could literally kick people (yes, he actually tried to kick me right on the knee) without fear of repercussions (mainly because he probably didn't understand what that is).
Yes, he has thrown mugs to people's head, he has tried to kick people, he has even tried to break somebody's arm and all he got was a "you should not do that you bad boii"...
Nope, he didn't get booted from the company...
and said person was staring at half-naked women on Instagram all day (if he wasn't trying to make really poor attempts at flirting with the women actually in the company that is) :) But then in his defence, he also wasn't there for IT-related things.
So what's up with those two daughter companies
Well, it's actually quite funny.
You see, ZetMaarTeKoop is supposed to be sort of a logistics company (I guess?).
Basically they take the old stuff that people want to sell into their warehouse, advertise it, and then, when it gets sold, take a cut.
But here's the fun part, we have no people that have real knowledge of logistics (not that I do any better in that tho).
Everything is just slammed in the inventory by a crude description of what it is and some pictures (no tracking, no labels etc.
And it's all stored in a warehouse...
With no real fireproofing...
And everybody with the right know-how can walk into it and probably steal stuff (seriously, I have done it once using a little piece of a plastic sheet I found next to the building because I was too lazy to walk all the way around again).
I don't know if there are any cameras in said warehouse, though there were some cameras scattered around the entrance of the building so there might be in the warehouse too.
EetMeesters, on the other hand, is a funkier topic.
You see, GB and RW suddenly decided to take over a restaurant, which they dubbed "EetMeesters" (though, this could have been the already existing name of the restaurant? idk about that).
However, this restaurant has a chef that can't make his own menu and the only people going there is the elderly.
It's fairly remote (so not something a young hipster would go and eat before a night at the club) and doesn't have many experienced people in the kitchen that I know off...
I have had food from there once and it was honestly pretty bad...
Who needs proper priorities anyways
It's also really interesting that while there is no money for things like better servers (let alone even spare parts for them), faster workstations (running Windows 10 on a slow af HDD with only 4GB of RAM and Hyper-V is... ehm... less than ideal?...), a more stable network or somebody to actually coach the people that come there to be coached...
There apparently is money to buy over a restaurant? I mean...
Who needs proper priorities anyways? Oh yea, and on that subject, there is also no money to hire somebody to actually coach the people that come there to be coached, yet, they can hire two people in administration (one of which is the "anti-fun mommy" and the other is browsing some random girly game forums all day)...
Who needs proper priorities anyways? And there is also no money to keep the servers going if too much of it breaks.
A little while ago, our PfSense box (which was already built on really old Hardware - think Pentium 3) broke, we had nothing to replace it with.
Luckily, I still had our old router (which somebody threw in the garbage bin, but I fished it out since I hoard a lot of stuff) in my drawer so we were up and running fairly quickly.
Until the day that I left, this router wasn't changed.
And I haven't even talked about backups...
Yes, the servers are not properly backed up.
Instead, the backup is placed on an external HDD that GB carries around in his bag.
which means, if that is gone or broken (and external HDDs tend to break pretty soon) and the server crashes...
well good luck...
Not that it matters, backups are made not very often anyway (I've seen the average time between backups be around half a year).
This means, that, in theory, if the server crashes and doesn't boot up again (eg. corrupted disks or something)...
that's the company for ya...
This can all be avoided tho *if* the company would invest in proper back-up measures...
but again, no money.
who needs proper priorities anyways.
The Bonus: the unsafe building
Ah yes, you've all been waiting for this, I am not supposed to tell you about this as it's supposed to be confidential...
But I'm on a roll anyways today, so I might as well just spill the beans.
You see, WerkWent has a very unsafe building.
Somebody (not actually me for once) has filed an anonymous complaint about the safety of the building WerkWent it is in.
You see, there were no fire extinguishers in the building (or at least, not on places that they easy to get to), the ones we did had hadn't been checked in years, the emergency staircase (stairchain?) was just a bunch of loose chains with "steps" one would throw out of the open window and climb down (not exactly a stable thing so to speak...), the permits were invalid (the permits were for a pressroom, not for an IT company), the building wasn't fireproofed properly and there was no so-called "BHV'er" in the building (well...
they quickly appointed somebody that had no clue on first-aid and wasn't licensed).
Well, ok, I must admit, they have done some slight improvements (like getting some portable fire extinguishers) but nothing really major (oh well... at Scouting, we had a "10% rule" where you can lose up to 10% of the people - which is just a joke, of course).
They didn't even have a first-aid kit until that complaint got filed.
Well, after all of this, if you are still eager to go to WerkWent, then go ahead, I won't stop ya, but do know that this is what you'll encounter there, and I probably only just scraped the surface.
WerkWent is great on paper but its execution is poorly.
I have spent 4 years trying to fix it, and it was going pretty well because I tried to engage people in my projects, no matter whether they were completely new to programming or not.
I shared everything I knew without hesitation (outside of some cybersecurity knowledge to a certain person, since he only wants to use it for blackhat reasons and to show off to his friends while threatening people he "dislikes" with his "hacking skills" - he already has done such threats multiple times).
I thought ahead of the curve, thinking about things that could go wrong and how to solve them (though, obviously as I was still learning myself as well, this didn't always work out as I'd planned for).
but then RW started to push his "privilege" and shit slowly started to crumble.
No longer were my ideas of any relevance, no, RW is the manager who managed Philips and everybody in the company respected him because he was so good, so he must be always right.
Yes, because you are going to learn all that skill and knowledge from slapping together sites with WordPress...
stay away from there, it's not worth your time.
Anyways, I hope you guys had a good read, feel free to ask any questions in the comments or hit me up on my subreddit .
But for now...
Update: February 14th 2020
I have been made aware of the fact that WerkWent has engaged in "review manipulation", which already tells you how desperate they are really.
Unfortunately, I can't link the actual review because all you'd get is a "This review is no longer available" or that it doesn't contain any direct references to WerkWent, so if the placer of said review would reach out to me, that'd be lovely.
However, thanks to a conversation I had with somebody back when I was writing this post, I still have a screenshot of the review!
This review translates to (and as always, I'll do my best in translating it without losing any data):
Selena Van Wijk
The company treats their "employees" (the people for daytime spending) poorly.
There was only one software engineer in the entire company, but I have heard that this person has recently left (read: "scrimped away" according to my internal source) before I had the change to speak to him/her.
For the rest, I can only find codemashers that do not know what they are doing and just slam something together without any knowledge of basic security.
For learning how to program, you do not need to come here either.
They dump you behind an old computer out of the year zero and send you to Codecademy of FreeCodeCamp and catch the subsidies for that.
Substantive coaching, as such, is not at the order here and in this case, you're better off staying at home.
There appears to be games a lot instead of being worked and the coaches do nothing about it.
The working shape is very unprofessional, their code is written very bad and nothing is being done about it.
On content, as such, there is nothing to gain either, except for false information.
On the side note, they expect people that merely want to learn the basics of programming to work on entire website and apps that should go into production for customers, due to which, quality and security can't be guaranteed.
In short, stay AWAY.
First of all, I am flattered by the fact she (I assume she is a she?) called me a "software engineer" while even I am not that great at it yet, but thanks anyways.
Second, I want to point out how hilariously familiar this review sounds when you look at this entire blog post.
I'm quite sure that if my entire blog post is "fake" or "wrong", then surely, it wouldn't come from multiple sources.
Third of all, it only goes to show how far WerkWent is going with all of this, that instead of bettering their company as a whole, they just start hiding honest reviews instead (interestingly enough, the one by Saguro hasn't been removed?).
Which is why I'm quite happy about having my own blog, try to censor that :)
Update: February 15th 2020
After having a phone call with one of my old colleagues, he has told me that one of the "students" at WerkWent managed to get a certificate (probably CompTIA A+, he didn't know the details of this) and a job thanks to the help offered at WerkWent.
While it's only one person out of the many I have seen come and go, it does mean that there are rare cases where WerkWent might be able to help out.
Whether that one person should suffice to say "but WerkWent actually does seem to care!" that is open for debate.
Additionally, said colleague disclosed to me that GB thought the removed review above (see the update of February 14th 2020 above) was posted by me.
Nonono, I have actually posted my own review just yesterday (It never really came to mind to leave my own review on their Google page...) and it reads:
Fairly sociable workplace (sometimes eh... a bit too sociable) where you get the room and chance to develop yourself...
The emphasis laying on the "develop yourself" as you mainly need to do things for yourself and hope you can get the help you need.
In my 4 years (end-2015 to November 2019) that I have been at WerkWent (of which 1-year daytime spending, 3 years under voluntary contract and two years also under employment), it was mainly figuring out things myself.
Unfortunately, there was no other employee from whom I could learn anything in the field of programming, I still think it's a bummer but at least I had a chance to pass on my knowledge and discover new things myself.
Unfortunately, even that didn't go as I had hoped for.
The projects I got where often very vague ("yes we want this, that and that, good luck with it"), there was no solid working structure (everybody just hammered away in the hope it would someday become a "product"), communication was very inefficient (sometimes it took months before we could continue on a project) and the manager was quick to shift the blame to others ("why don't you continue working", "will it be finished anytime soon" etc. etc.).
Budget for IT was nearly non-existent if something broke like a server, router or switch, it was massive chaos.
Now, I do have to be transparent about something and that is that they, "especially for me" bought a new workstation because there were plans to also produce videos, unfortunately, this also never took shape.
They have received a bunch of complaints from people, but instead of listening to the feedback they received, they decided to ignore the negative and only let the positive get in.
Aside from that, I have put a lot of effort into making sure that the people that came in there would get the right knowledge for the trait, had a place to leave their questions and had an actual project to work on and say "I was part of that", unfortunately, this has all been for nothing.
Shippers have a very applicable saying for this: "A ship needs a captain. The crew is important but the captain steers everything. You need a clear vision to lead".
Unfortunately was our captain not capable and then the crew won't be able to make it either.
It was, in my opinion, a comfortable workplace thanks to all the social interaction I had, unfortunately that is the biggest point I can call.
Unless you are good at self-learning and mainly search for social interaction, my advice would be to search elsewhere for a fitting daytime spending.
At the time of writing this update, said review has to be manually approved by them, which I doubt will happen.
Yes, after they removed Selena's review, they switched over to having to manually approve reviews.
Honestly, while it's pretty sad that they just pointed their finger towards me instantly, I can kinda understand this but still, they should act rationally like that without actually verifying.
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