A Plastic Pathfinder, a Full-Time Gamer, an Exclusive Makeup Artist — What Are Some of the Unusual Jobs in IT?
Anywhere Club explains why an IT company hires full-time doctors and chemists, teachers for robots, identifiers of cats, caretakers of an oil rig, and hotel representatives.
Engineers are not the only ones in demand in the field of technologies. Creative and unusual professions are also represented more widely than you might expect.
— EPAM works with a large number of clients around the world, and their requests vary considerably — from the common to the downright unusual. Our goal is to create a unique solution tailored to the needs of each client: it may be service, a product, or a platform. On the “request-idea-implementation” path, we often deal with tasks that go beyond the scope of the engineering world: instances in which there are questions that programmers simply don’t have answers to. In these cases, we need the expertise of selected specialists. — The list of our professionals is very diverse, — says Sergey Boyko, Director of Engineering. In my work, I’m responsible for selecting a team, assessing the timing of the project, its cost, as well as managing and solving emerging problems. I will give a few examples.
Physicists and chemists
— For one customer from the medical field, we needed to create a device in which there were plastic elements that, during the process, were subjected to friction. It was important to evaluate how this plastic would behave over time. The solution was unique. No one had, or could have, such data. Accordingly, we needed people and an analytics system to create the necessary expertise. The mechanics were responsible for the system, but we also needed people who would rub plastic on the plastic. They had to be hired full-time and the duties of these employees included monitoring how the friction occurred. To understand how the plastic would behave in five years, the data needed to be collected for several months.
This example may seem silly, but we take meeting the needs of our clients very seriously. The reality is that we involve physicists in order to understand how certain materials will behave under various influences. What will happen to the plastic when it is exposed to ultraviolet light? What will happen to the metal if deforming forces are applied to the nodes and mechanisms of the customer's innovative product? Highly specialized pros help us find the answers to these questions. You will hardly be surprised to know that for projects from the pharmaceutical industry, we work with experienced chemists.
— There are several cases in which we have hired doctors. For example, we have a studio in Boston that focuses on manufacturing medical devices. It often conducts experiments that require doctors from nearby hospitals: they perform operations on mannequins using all of the technologies that were developed by our team, with full immersion in the simulated environment. We also involve doctors to evaluate how different systems for registering admitted patients are used, and for dealing with issues concerning medical records.
— One of our clients from the beauty industry, a cosmetics manufacturer, wanted to find out how customers use his products in order to improve his sales platform. When you look at the site, a program shows the makeup applied on your face to make it easier for you to select cosmetics for purchase. We hired a makeup artist who helped evaluate how to properly use the cosmetics that the customer produces. For this position, it was not even necessary to be able to use a computer. Seems like a dream job.
— Another dream job for many people would be to play computer games all day long. Not many people know that EPAM has expertise in game development. For one very well-known customer in the world market, we test early versions of games. To do so, we hire people whose duties include playing games all day long on various platforms: PC, mobile devices, and consoles. Not a bad way to make a living.
Identifiers of cats
— We often invite people without any IT education or background to cooperate with us. They just need to know how to use a computer, and have at least a limited knowledge of English. These employees are hired to do data markup for machine learning. It's very simple. For example, in front of you is a picture of a cat. The cat must be selected in a box and identified as a cat. These photos are then used for machine learning systems to teach them to identify objects. Artificial intelligence is trained using special data sets. In order to prepare these sets, a human eye is needed. With the participation of the human employees, the system learns and can then perform the function with acceptable accuracy.
— A similar story involves defining defects in production. Imagine that production is underway, and a special camera is on the conveyor belt. The camera analyzes images in real time to identify deviations from the established quality standards. Clearly, the camera itself won’t determine anything; it will only show the image. Artificial intelligence is required but, before it can perform the necessary function, it first needs to be taught to identify defects and deviations. For this, people are hired who are told what such defects and deviations look like. They then trace and mark defects frame by frame. This is straightforward but very important work for us and the client, since it allows the robots to learn to perform this critical function.
— For clients in testing departments, we identify and engage people with experience from the client's industry. For example, for a client in the oil and gas industry, if a candidate has experience working on an oil rig, that candidate becomes an indispensable member of the team for evaluating development results. With domain experience, the candidate understands how the system will be used, what various numbers mean, can assess how comfortable it will be for people on an oil rig to use the system, and so on. In these cases, the experience of testing is less significant because it can be taught. The experience of working on an oil rig becomes the priority.
Similarly, in the hospitality industry, when systems are developed for hotels, people with experience in the industry can help guide the conclusions and move the project in the right directions in development.
How to find a job in IT?
— We look for people for a variety of unusual tasks in different ways: we post vacancies, and we monitor people with relevant experience ourselves. If you have some kind of unique experience, do not hesitate to shout about it on social networks: it is highly likely that you will be heard!