In April 2022, EPAM University launched a pilot run of IT Fundamentals for Ukrainian Switchers — a program aimed at beginners in IT. In the first couple of weeks, the program received more than 18,000 applications from those wishing to master the IT basics. A new stage of the program, which involves an in-depth study of six separate directions, will begin in July. In the meantime, curators of IT Fundamentals talk about the results of the first stage, the educational process, and their further plans.
“Usually, candidates, who enroll in EPAM University programs, already know the basics of computer science and have a general idea of how the IT industry is built. In March, after recovering from the initial shock of the full-scale russian invasion, we realized that we must open educational opportunities to people without prior knowledge of IT basics. We gathered and consolidated essential information on one platform, canceled entrance tests, and gave access to an interactive self-study system — all because of the volatility we found ourselves in”, recalls Denys Grynov, head of educational programs at EPAM University.
The program is especially relevant for those who lost their jobs because of the war.
As it turned out, the chosen strategy was correct, as the pilot project received over 18,000 applications coming in from all over the country and abroad.
"We have never worked with such a large audience at once; to think, it can be compared to a big university campus. But the feedback from our students convinced us that it was a much-needed project. We feel that the introduction of the IT Fundamentals program will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the further work of EPAM University. For their part, thousands of its graduates will influence the quality and competitiveness of the IT market”, adds Denys.
Here are a few observations from the first stage of IT Fundamentals:
- Three hours daily. On holidays and weekends too 😊 That's how much self-studying a single day of the program requires. On average, participants master the course in 120 hours.
- Frequently asked questions. As self-study is not always easy for beginners, it was decided to include weekly meetings with expert practitioners to discuss hot questions from the modules. Among the most popular questions are those about language: what's the required level of English (hint: in general, it is B1, for business analysts — C1), how to improve it, and what programming language to choose in the future.
- Turtles and Cheetahs. Although all candidates started at the same time, each participant was able to chose their own pace of training. Therefore, some students have already finished the last module or even begun revising theory, while others give each module some more time. Regardless, the program allows to return to modules that require extra attention: the IT Fundamentals is designed for Turtles as much as for Cheetahs.
- The required and the optional. Participants must complete eight required modules, including basics of computer science, programming, version control with the Git, mathematics for IT, software development methodologies, Front End basics, and cloud technology. The course includes two optional modules: database fundamentals and English for Interview. The humanities majors need not worry about mathematics: mentors explain it in a simple way and help to systematize and structure information for those who feel overburdened with it.
In June, after finishing the first stage, all participants who have mastered at least 85% of the material and passed the test with a score of more than 85% will receive a certificate of completion of the IT Fundamentals program. We do not limit the attempts or time: they can review the course materials and try again.
On the second stage, students choose a specific area for further study and take entrance tests. Currently, it's possible to choose among six directions: Java, .NET, Front-End, Cloud & DevOps, Business Analysis, and Test Automation. Additionally, we offer a module on design, because it won’t hurt if developers and analysts will get familiar with how user experience is built. Following the completion of the second stage, we will invite graduates to the internal EPAM University Laboratory.
How does the community live?
The primary tool for communication in the IT Fundamentals programs is a designated Telegram channel. The community has proven to be one of the most powerful pillars of studying. There are twelve thousand users on the channel who one can ask for help in finding the answer to any question. The mentors note that the participants demonstrate extraordinary activity — we are talking about a minimum of 200 messages per day — yet again illustrating the high level of motivation of switchers.
Trainers are no less active than their students. Many of the company's specialists are involved in the program. Everyone is preparing for the weekly meetings — from testers to project managers. Today, the number of volunteers at IT Fundamentals helping to structure material, develop topics, organize Q&A meetings, or support participants with advice exceeds the most daring expectations.
“While teaching, we are also improving the course, making changes here and there, and systematizing knowledge even further. We have gathered the necessary minimum of information for novices, so they do not have to glean it elsewhere,” commented Oleksii Leunenko, curator of the IT Fundamentals program. “At the same time, we added some high quality modules from IT Fundamentals course to the general programs organized by EPAM University. Among the participants of our programs, there are always switchers without technical background who do not understand some fundamental topics. We provide basic knowledge, but our graduates have a long and hard work ahead of them.”
EPAM University plans to conduct similar self-study programs in the future. The main requirements for participants remain the same: the willingness to improve their knowledge and a good level of English. Does it sound like we are talking about you? Then follow us on Facebook and Telegram and be the first to know about next EPAM University programs and IT Fundamentals course.