Start Your Career in IT: Career Guidance Hackathon at ITMO University

The IT industry is full of exciting job opportunities for young professionals. To help second-year Bachelor’s students find their career passions, the staff of ITMO’s Faculty of Infocommunication Technologies organized a career guidance hackathon. In this interview with ITMO.NEWS, the hackathon’s coordinators share about its program, as well as last year’s most exciting projects.

Career Guidance Hackathon

The hackathon is aimed at helping students get their heads around the opportunities available in the IT industry and choose their future career well. The event’s coordinators note that IT students can now pick from a wide range of fields, from testing to network management, to name but a few.

“Any IT project is conducted in several stages, each requiring different skill sets. That’s what we launched this hackathon for, to help students get a better insight into the development process in the field of IT. What makes this project even more beneficial for our students is that participation in it is regarded as practical training,” shared Anton Govorov, an assistant at the Faculty of Infocommunication Technologies and one of the hackathon’s organizers.

Anton Govorov
Anton Govorov

The main task at the hackathon is to design and develop a website or an app. Students can come up with their own topic or choose from the ones available. The hackathon is launched in collaboration with several St. Petersburg’s companies interested in developing their business in the field of IT. Among the partners are the cultural and educational project ‘Unknown St. Petersburg’, the Light World charity fund, and the Zolle marketing agency.

“It’s not easy to find good employees in the field of IT,” shared Viktor Soloviev, the Director General of the Zolle company. “The competition in the market is so high that employees can lay down their own rules. The industry needs more young specialists, in the US and Russia alike. Some companies are so afraid of losing talent that they even hire people without any major projects to offer them. As the head of an ad agency, I would advise students to develop out-of-the-box thinking and learn to propose new innovative ideas. For example, you could write a code which is shorter that the previous one, or just aimed at solving a different task. One isn’t born with this kind of skill, but you can develop it.”

Viktor Soloviev
Viktor Soloviev

Viktor Soloviev offered participants to create an app using web-analytics, while Eugeniy Fomichuk, the administrator of the Light World charity fund, invited them to create a mobile app for the volunteers of the ‘Blago Khleb’ project, who deliver bread to elderly and disabled people once or twice a week. The app is designed to monitor volunteers’ activity.

According to the hackathon’s coordinators, many of last year’s participants’ projects exceeded all expectations. For example, a service that gathers recipes from various culinary websites, arranges them and comes up with the best options in terms of the products you have in your fridge.

Career Guidance Hackathon
Career Guidance Hackathon

Tips for young programmers

Apart from working on cases, the hackathon’s program also includes workshops by the industry experts. Among them are:

  • “Junior/Middle/Senior” by Nikita Sobolev, the technical director of the wemake.services company;
  • “Find a job and stay happy” by Vlad Kosinov, an interface engineer at the Enapter company;
  • “Start your career in IT. One female programmer’s story” by Elena Semenova, a frontend developer at the RooX Solutions company.

The hackathon opened with a workshop on teamwork skills by Andrey Berezhkov, an expert at the Agency of Professional Education Development, during which he shared his professional experiences and gave students some useful advice on how to organize their work in a team.

Career Guidance Hackathon
Career Guidance Hackathon

“There are several things to remember when working on a project,” says Andrey Berezhov. “First, you have to make your product appealing. Be sure to keep all the paperwork in order and make the design intuitive and user-friendly. Second, do your best to make a top-quality product. And last but not least, any project needs to be completed. You can’t just sit there and fix some minor defects forever. Create the prototype as soon as possible, show it to your customer, and see if they are happy with it. If they are, go on and finish it, if they don’t like it, change something and try again.”

When the hackathon comes to an end, the participants will have to present their projects to the jury, which will choose the best ones. Among the prizes for winners are various devices and internships at St. Petersburg’s leading IT companies. The hackathon will end on February 16.

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