Making a Meaningful Impact for the IT Community: How Does It Feel Like to Mentor the Younger?

We love sharing stories that make us feel proud. And the story of our colleagues Viktor Bechev and Georgi Kunchev can teach us a lot about the importance of giving back to the community of the young in the process of building the next generation of IT talents. Georgi and Viktor themselves have turned one meaningful idea into a real project and have jumped into the shoes of lecturers in Python programming for students at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics part of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

What does it feel like? What has inspired them to take on the initiative? Let’s ask them straight out.

Both Viktor and Georgi have been part of the same team at Strypes mainly working on software development with Python. Viktor graduated as a software engineer and joined our team 9 years ago and successfully grew his career to a Technical Lead. In 2019 he onboarded a new member in his team – Georgi, who also has a background in programming mainly in the field of marketing research.

Viktor Bechev, Technical Lead

“In fact, I consider the opportunity to be a lecturer as another chance to be a student. My self-motivation to join is driven by my desire to keep gaining new skills, to keep learning in the software field, and to keep improving myself. In other words, by taking part as a lecturer, I challenge myself and I want to prove that I can do a good job.” – adds Georgi.

How does the Python course bring value for junior developers?

“We view it as a“playground” for developers, or a chance to socialize, to challenge yourself, and to learn meaningful skills through gamification or competition. We aim at teaching students how to think, and we try to share good and bad examples from our daily work. Our main idea is to introduce an approach that is different from standard lecturing where theory dominates over practical knowledge.” – says Georgi.

How did you decide to take up teaching Python and leading a course at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics at Sofia University?

“Together with the Strypes’ management team, we agreed on the idea that IT talents in Bulgaria must be supported, and we are responsible for bringing back to the community – with our insights, knowledge, and experience. The key reason for me to take part has been my participation in the same course 10 years ago which gave me a significant amount of the knowledge and skills that I keep using in my work today. It has not been the first attempt of ours to run this initiative, but a series of unpredicted events did not allow us to bring it to life during the past 2-3 years. However, it all turned into a blessing in disguise since we had the chance to meet Georgi and other great colleagues to join our efforts this year.” – shares Viktor.

Georgi Kunchev,
Senior Python Developer

“We want to help students shape basic knowledge and skillset in Python, and always encourage them to be interested, to raise questions, and to be self-motivated. Of course this won’t make them great developers as soon as they graduate but will help them find a job and keep growing in the field.” – comments Viktor.

Do you believe that education for IT profiles responds to the needs of the business in Bulgaria?

“For sure, many IT academies and schools in Bulgaria, successfully educate great talents in the IT field. Within our initiative we are trying to add value and to contribute with contemporary knowledge combined with practical examples from the business.” – Viktor tells us. “Educational initiatives like this one can give you a great basis for learning and development. My personal experience, however, tells that one always needs to put a little individual effort and turn to self-learning if they want to grow further. Back to the question, I believe that no educational system can apply a universal approach towards everyone, especially in IT. Here is why we are always flexible in teaching and will adjust our methods to help students learn easier.” – adds Georgi.

What is your feedback from the course and the lectures a few weeks after the beginning?

“We always try to bring a positive vibe into the classroom and gather feedback by the level of motivation, understanding, and participation by students. We also offer small incentives to the ones who appear to be the most engaged by asking or answering questions. Like I said, I involved myself in lecturing just to find out new things that I never knew, and I consider these moments as great chances to do so.” – explains Georgi. “Personally, I think there’s merit in trying to keep things entertaining during the lectures. On one hand this keeps engagement high, which aids the most important thing – making sure that the students really understand what we’re trying to teach them. And on the other…it’s a lot of fun for myself, too.” – admits Viktor.

What would you advise junior IT talents chasing a career in the tech world?

“Teach yourself how to learn”, I would say. And never feel too comfortable that one programming language or a single framework that you master will do it for building a successful career. Start with gaining fundamental knowledge about programming and mathematics and get to know history and various concepts before diving deeper into a specific technology. Also, make sure that you understand how hardware works if you want to make a meaningful impact with the code you write.” – suggests Georgi.

“My experience tells that programming with other people pulls you up and makes you use your full potential to learn and develop. Speaking about it, I’d like to emphasize on the importance of being truly inspired and motivated to grow in the field of programming before you start.” – adds Viktor.

Let’s congratulate Viktor and Georgi on being so enthusiastic about teaching! No doubt, they and their teammates are making significant contributions to the development of the next generation of tech talents in Bulgaria.

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