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Where and how to prepare for the profession of the future

Where should experienced tech specialists study? Why do they need to continue studying? How do you determine what education to pay for? Natalia Ostashko, an education manager with extensive experience in IT, answered these and other questions.

Education manager Natalia Ostashko

Why do tech specialists need to continue to learn?

— Today, if you have 5 years more experience than graduates of any facility in the tech specialty of a university, in practical terms you know less. We no longer focus on the history of Java or the history of data. Instead, we need to understand what the market needs now. That's why if you stop studying, you will not understand modern trends and technologies. As a result, you may lose your job. The only exception is management roles, which are more related to people, communications, negotiations, and other less technical, more transferrable skills.

As for technical skills, when you decide to become an engineer, you need to move forward and study non-stop. I do know many IT specialists who are getting tired of that after 10 years in engineering and then they switch to management, which is not sometimes a very good choice as most of them are introverts.

Where should tech specialists study?

— It is best to learn from the experience of leading companies. If you are studying in graduate school, and taking certification courses, I recommend prioritizing courses that are sponsored or confirmed by partner companies. How can you study the cloud if not with Amazon? How can you study software development or solution architecture if you are not doing so with a company like EPAM, for example, that has hundreds of projects that serve leading companies around the world? If you don't follow the leader in your area of study, you won't be able to work for the leader and be a leader yourself.

Learning methods

— There are different ways of learning. I absolutely say "yes" to a mixed format, which consists of obtaining theoretical knowledge and mentoring with an experienced specialist for practical knowledge.

Theory can be obtained from ChatGPT, massive open online courses, or platforms provided by tech companies such as EDX, where courses are hosted for both internal and external use.

For the practical component of your learning, the key is to find a mentor who can help you check whether ChatGPT chat is providing accurate information, whether the materials you found on Google are relevant, whether the Coursera course is too simple, etc.

If you want, and are ready, to do research or create revolutionary solutions, you definitely need to take a Master's course to broaden your horizons. Make sure that whatever course you select is focused on or around the industry you need. Otherwise, it will be pure theory, and I'm not sure that will help you build your career.

To choose a relevant educational course, you need to know what you want to become. If you choose a technology that you are ready to learn and develop from year to year, you will need to continually invest time and money in your professional technical development. Therefore, learn to learn, and you will always have a chance to improve your skills and remain in demand in the market.

Tuition fees

— You can pay for Harvard, Eton, Cambridge, Oxford, or other top-tier institutions if you have the opportunity. If you can't afford to get a degree at the most expensive places, however, you can pay for programs that offer certificates. You can also go to these or other universities to take selected available courses that will help you advance in your career and strengthen your resume, rather than completing a full curriculum there.

I also recommend internships in world-famous tech companies, which may be paid positions.

Pursue the best opportunities available to you. I would be careful about spending money on training at unknown courses that claim to help you move up the career ladder or change your profession. It is better to rely on massive open online courses such as Coursera, EDX, Udacity, and Plural Side (these are my favorites).

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Promising areas of study

— I would focus on Data and Cloud as promising tech career areas. This is due to the development of artificial intelligence, which helps people a lot these days and is changing the tech environment.

When developing a career in DevOps and Cloud, you need to focus on emotional intelligence, stress management, negotiation skills — the components that make you a good leader. Forget about the idea of being a manager in the classical sense of the word. These days, ChatGPT can easily track and manage a project of any level. Instead, what people need from you is your charisma, emotional intelligence, motivation, your ability to negotiate – human qualities. Professions involving the direct participation of a person are the ones that will remain viable moving forward. They will not be replaced by the continuing development of artificial intelligence and its increasing abilities.

About the EPAM Master’s program

— EPAM conducts many courses for junior specialists and those who want to change their profession. The company has access to invaluable engineering knowledge because it is a corporate entity with more than 20 years of experience around the world. EPAM cooperates with leading brands in various industries and accumulates experience in the field of data, cloud technologies, DevOps, management, and solution architecture.

At some point, the idea arose to share this experience not only with employees, but with everyone. This is how the Master's Program project began, which first appeared in Ukraine, and then expanded to include Central and Eastern Europe.

I am proud to be the leader of this project. First, because we shared our accumulated experience with the whole world, and second, because we offered a unique specialization including academic components from the university. This led us to an absolutely breakthrough idea for the future of education: combining academic and industrial components for a Master's degree. I can't imagine a better option for improving my skills and broadening my horizons.

People who participate in our program find new jobs, get promoted, and gain self-confidence. By the end of their studies with us, they accumulate vast experience and come up with brilliant solutions in the context of their projects.

It is a testament to our program that it remains relevant and vibrant in the face of all the changes taking place in the world. We are not simply engaged in education in the present, we are engaged in education for the future, which is a very bold statement these days. With us, you will always know what to do and how to do it.

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