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Prepping for Success: A Look Inside EPAM’s University Program (Part 1)

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More than ten years in the making, EPAM’s University Program has impacted over 12,500 students across 35 partner universities in four countries. The program’s mission is to equip university students with the competitive skills they need for the global IT sector by offering cutting-edge, industry-relevant training. After graduation, many students put their tech knowledge to work by starting their careers at EPAM – in fact, since the inception of the program, over 6,300+ students have been hired.

We spoke with several former University Program students and current EPAM employees from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. In the first installment of this series, we’re featuring three former students from Minsk, Belarus – Anton Yermakou, Valery Rudko and Volha Bertash.

Why did you choose to study computer science?

Anton: Because I strongly believe that machines should do all the hard work. When I see a complex task that I know a computer could do, I will work hard to make the computer do this task.

Valery: [Computer science] is a sphere where you can be close to the latest technologies and open to the world around you. Computers are everywhere and you can find a specialty just for you.

Volha: I liked mathematics in school, so it was obvious to me that I needed to choose technical specialty and decision was taken to study in Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics.

What specific project are you currently working on?

Anton: I’m working on a Business Intelligence Competency Center project right now. It is a project that accumulates the entire BI practice experience. We handle partnerships and partner licenses, the certification process for our employees, support pre-sales with case studies and special decks and create whitepapers on relevant topics.

Valery: I’m working on testing a web-based application for global marketing of one of the world’s well-known companies.

Volha: I am working on API testing.

Have you used the skills you learned in the University Program after graduation?

Anton: Yes, I use them every day. Honestly, I think that the University Program is an ideal example of how the last year of university should look. You have many practical tasks during the program and, as a result, you gain relevant hands-on experience in the professional field you have chosen.

Valery: The University Program included great lessons that, in the moment, might seem unnecessary to know for your future career. But when you start working, you face these lessons in the real world for the first time and you feel prepared for it.

Volha: Definitely, they were important skills to have for real world projects, and were especially helpful in the beginning of my career.

How have these skills from the University Program helped you at EPAM?

Anton: I would not be able to perform my direct responsibilities without the skills and knowledge I gained in the University Program.

Valery: The University Program helped us learn how to work together on one project when none of the team members faced this sphere any earlier. Also, the program helped us understand the importance of sharing knowledge and being open to new opportunities. Each of us have played a lead role and have had to make decisions. All of these activities prepared me and other students to work as a team.

Volha: Taking to consideration that I was familiar with lots of IT concepts – except testing as we didn't have this discipline in the university – skills from the University Program helped me start my career at EPAM.

How many of you were in your group? How many of your peers work with you at EPAM from that group?

Anton: There were 16 students on the external BI training and only eight of us in BI Lab. All eight students are now working on different projects at EPAM.

Valery: There were nine people in our group that were divided into two teams – seven software testing engineers and I work at EPAM. But the only reason why the other team member left EPAM was because they relocated to Canada.

Volha: There were about 10 students in the group. Some of my peers are still working at EPAM and some of them are not anymore. I haven’t had the chance yet to work with them on the same project.

What are some challenges for people interested in starting a career in the tech industry?

Anton: There is one major challenge that everyone considering entering IT should be aware of – before you start a career in IT, you must know that IT specialists always have to study. Over time, technology replaces an existing technology and you must get acquainted with the new tech in a short timeframe. If you miss something crucial, you may lose out on many potential vacancies.

Valery: The main challenge is just ‘to do the first step’. But you will never achieve results without taking this first step.

Volha: The first challenge that I immediately think of is the English language. Or, to be more precise, having a combination of tech and English skills requires double the effort for preparation.

What advice would you give to aspiring technologists?

Anton: Do your work as quickly as possible in the most efficient way and with best quality. This approach to any problem is beneficial for you, the company and the customer, and I’m strongly convinced that this is something any professional should pursue.

Valery: Everything is in your hands. The only thing you need to be successful is to be open to opportunities and have a thirst for knowledge.

Volha: To look for technologies that they would like to work with, as there are so many different directions and opportunities, and it’s impossible to be an expert in all of them. The better way is to ask yourself what exactly you want to do and move in this direction step-by-step.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our EPAM University Program interview series where we will hear from a current student and three former students who were recently hired at EPAM!