Wed, 10/27/2021 - 16:47

Two IT professionals on the philosophy, impact and importance of EPAM's Junior Training Program

epam ivaylo kunev zara andreeva
Ivaylo Kunev and Zara Andreeva

EPAM Systems. Inc., a global leader in software product development and platform engineering services, arrived in Bulgaria in 2014. Its local office expanded rapidly and continues to hire talent in data analysis, data and DevOps engineers, and more, to work on the company's exciting projects for clients all over the globe. Several years ago, EPAM Bulgaria created an ingenious tool to boost the quality of local talent, to have competent and enthusiastic new professionals in its teams, and to encourage exchange of hard and soft skills and knowledge within the company. EPAM's Junior Training Program is tailored to train people without prior IT experience and to turn IT professionals into effective mentors who build the next generation of engineers and managers. The effect is impressive: most of the participants begin working at EPAM and remain with the company where they continue to grow and develop through ongoing internal training and mentorship programs. How does the program work? We talked to two people from EPAM Bulgaria who are directly involved in it, Engineering Manager Ivaylo Kunev and Senior Software Engineer Zara Andreeva.

Ivaylo Kunev, Engineering Manager, Head of DevOps and Test expertise in EPAM Bulgaria

Ivaylo Kunev has 15 years of experience in the IT field. His EPAM journey started in 2015 as a Senior Automation Engineer. After working as Lead Automation Engineer and Testing Team Leader he is now Engineering Manager.

Ivaylo Kunev, EPAM

How did you become a part of ЕРАМ's team?

I joined EPAM's family after a friend recommended me. Almost 7 years later I can say that what I have learned here exceeded my initial expectations. This was possible thanks to the great experts who take care of our professional paths. If you ask me now about my future in the company, it will be hard to answer as career development opportunities at EPAM are endless.

Why did EPAM decide to create its Junior Training Program?

We wanted to give a chance to young and ambitious people without prior experience in the field. When they are in the right environment, with outstanding mentors and the best tools available, they soon become professionals. When they acquire enough experience and confidence, they can also become mentors in the Junior Training Program. The wheel makes a whole turn, and most importantly, knowledge and experience are exchanged.

What is the goal of the Junior Training Program?

A successful start to an IT career in an environment full of challenges and great colleagues.

What do you want to teach the participants?

Professional work culture. After this we start to build their knowledge in the work process, tools and technologies.

What mentoring practices do you apply?

The success of EPAM's mentoring program is in the preparation of the mentors, the lecturers and all other participating colleagues. Mentors and lecturers prepare the teaching materials and then test one another on them until the tiniest detail is crafted to perfection. Then comes administrative preparation, in which we use a diversity of tools. We finish with practical tasks in real-life environments where cadets acquire practical experience.

For whom is the Junior Training Program?

For absolutely everyone who has the energy, desire and motivation.

How can one apply and what does the selection process include?

The hiring process is standard and similar to the hiring process for every other position in the company. The training programs have fixed dates and are organized at a certain period of the year. The candidates have about a month to apply and send their CVs. The places are limited. We are looking for people with a basic technical background in Java, JavaScript and Test Automation. The preliminary screening includes a test or problem-solving task to check the candidate's knowledge; some of the tasks can be a game or puzzle. If the candidate passes, an interview is scheduled (which can also be in English) to check the candidate's motivation to join the program.

What are the achievements of previous installments of the program?

Zara and her colleagues are one of our success stories. In 2017, they began as Junior Java and JavaScript specialists. Now they are at a Senior Level. They actively participate in selecting new teams and in the training programs. They are also people leads.

Why is the Junior Training Program important for ЕРАМ's development?

When you train a group of people in the right work processes and how to use effective tools, approaches, and technologies, they will eventually pass their knowledge down the line and empower the next group of enthusiasts. This program also helps EPAM stay at the forefront of solving its clients' most pressing technical challenges and need for digital transformation.

What are the advantages for the participants at the Junior Training Program and how do they develop afterwards?

There are no age restrictions. If one is motivated and wants to develop, everything is possible with the help of EPAM's team of professionals. Training graduates go on their individual path, which can lead in many professional directions. They can eventually choose to switch to another field of expertise, for example from Java or JavaScript Developer to DevOps engineer. We support them in their journey by identifying the right mentor to guide them on each step of this transformation.

Zara Andreeva, Senior Software Engineer

Zara Andreeva started working at EPAM over 4 years ago after successfully graduating the Junior Training Program and becoming a Junior Developer. She is now in a senior position. Her story shows just some of the opportunities that EPAM provides to motivated talent.

Zara Andreeva, EPAM

What did you expect when you become a part of ЕРАМ's team?

When I started at EPAM in 2017, I expected to learn technical skills and to work on successful projects. With time, I realized that this was just a tiny part of the skills and opportunities that one can acquire here. I built a professional culture, I learned to work in a team, to be a leader and a mentor, to train my colleagues and to help them grow. At EPAM, we have the freedom to choose which path to take. We are always supported and equipped with the knowledge to fulfill our goals.

Why did EPAM decide to create its Junior Training Program?

Initially, the company wanted to provide opportunities for development to ambitious people with no experience in the field, but who were motivated to acquire new knowledge and expand their potential. With time, experience and achieved results, the program became a practice that each year helps not only cadets, but also senior programmers who want to develop leadership qualities and mentor skills. Its advantages are that from the very beginning cadets learn both technical skills and the internal system, the work tools in a real-life environment and how to develop professional social skills.

What is the goal of the Junior Training Program?

To prepare trainees for a successful IT career by providing hands-on work experience and mentorship from leading experts. The path to achieving this includes many challenges. With each consecutive program we ask and process the opinions of participants, mentors and clients who have worked with the participants. This allows us to continuously improve the program and further its success.

What do you want to teach the participants?

The most important thing we aim for during the training is building professional work culture and teamwork. These processes are the core of successful work and any project's development; they have been a key factor since the program's start. Good practices and technological skills are acquired both during training and in each day of professional development. We take care to set the foundations straight by teaching cadets how to be proactive, how to seek information and how to apply what they have learned in the best possible way.

What mentoring practices do you apply?

We set clear goals, both short – and long-term ones, and plan how to achieve them. Short-term goals include the selection of lecturers and materials for the program. In the long-term plan, each participant has a mentor to ask questions and seek advice and set goals. The mentor follows up on how these are achieved. During a weekly feedback session, participants can share their opinion on what could be improved and what they have liked. With each training program, EPAM continues to improve its program offerings and achieve better results.

For whom is the Junior Training Program?

For anyone who is motivated, ambitious and eager to develop. Everyone who dreams of an IT career can learn more about the process and become part of a quickly developing team and EPAM’s rapidly expanding family.

EPAM Bulgaria team

What are the achievements of previous installments of the program?

The achievements that each participant accomplishes each day are constantly growing. Their individual paths go through different stages, challenges and hardships, but they can be eventually summed up with a single word: success! I am still interested in what I do; I still have my ambitions and goals. It is easy when you are surrounded by motivated people. My success story started with the first project in which I participated. I was part of a team working in two separate locations. Soon I became the leader of the Bulgaria-based team and started training new juniors. This challenge ended with a successful project, satisfied clients and lots of new experience.

Why is the Junior Training Program important for ЕРАМ's development?

The program is more than an opportunity for a successful career start. It develops and helps people who want to help others, to learn something new and to be better. When I participated in it, everything was new, difficult and different for me. My colleagues helped me. They motivated me to overcome the difficulties. Now, with my experience, I want to motivate someone else, boost their confidence and share my experience. Making another person successful is something to be proud of. Each year, EPAM helps numerous people succeed and grow professionally through the Junior Training Program.

What are the advantages for the participants at the Junior training program and how do they develop afterwards?

The opportunities are endless and completely individual. Regardless of our position and start at EPAM, we can create our career path on our own. We have an established process that allows growth in different tracks, as managers or as architects. With passion, hard work and motivation, everyone can change their position and even the technology in which they specialize. People are the crucial tool for success at EPAM; this is why we have a special program for mentors. In it, everyone can choose a mentor who will help them find a new direction for development or they can become a mentor themselves and help colleagues develop new skills.

To learn more about EPAM, visit www.epam.com

To view all current job openings at EPAM Bulgaria, visit Join Our Team | EPAM Careers


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