Interview with IT programmer Veniamin Shitikov

Veniamin Shitikov, what was your education and where did you work before GB? Where did the warehouse manager get the training to win free IT training in a huge competition?


I had a college education, but very far from web development. In 2001 I graduated from Tashkent University of Information Technology with a degree in radio communications, broadcasting and television.

I got my first experience in programming on my own – I tried to study the Java language. And later, when I heard about the competition for free training at GeekBrains, I began to actively upgrade my knowledge.

  • Were you born in Uzbekistan?
  • I was born in Leningrad, but when I was seven years old my mother and I moved to Tashkent. I grew up there, graduated from school and university. In 2002 I moved back to my father in St. Petersburg. I consider myself a St. Petersburger to the core: I love my city with all its rain, parades, curbs and buckwheat and chickens.

Nevertheless, when I was offered a job at GeekBrains, I had not a single doubt that I had to go to Moscow.

  • When did you realize that development is yours?
  • It became unbearable on the old work. It so happened that on my return from Tashkent I had to reacquire citizenship. Where could a stateless person get a job? In a warehouse. So I became a storekeeper, which at the time was very good.

By 2013, I had grown into a big warehouse supervisor. At first it was interesting and financially satisfying. But a lot has changed in five years. Now logistics is the link that everyone is trying to save money on. And it turns out that there is more work in the warehouses, but wages are not growing. The attitude to this sphere has also changed. I realized: something had to change.

I analyzed the job market and my strengths: my education and mathematical abilities, and I decided to try my hand at programming.

At first, I chose the Java language: I read about it, tried to write code, and made sure that it was interesting to me. I started looking for courses and found out about GeekBrains. I was going to sign up for paid training, but I saw that there was a great contest. You could win free frontend or Ruby training.

I decided to give it a try. Constantly went to Googlé, looking for something else to read. In my opinion, the search engine is a developer’s main weapon.

  • And why between Frontend and Ruby did you choose the former?
  • It was spontaneous: to get into “frontend development” I had to use JavaScript in the entrance tasks. Compared to Ruby JS seemed to me closer to Java and therefore more understandable.

Later, in the process of studying, I came to the conclusion that I made the right choice. I had found in JavaScript what I had lacked in Java – above all, the ability to quickly see the result of my work.

  • Did you find the tasks easy?
  • Not simple, but understandable. The discrete mathematics tests played a decisive role in the selection of candidates. The organizers gave participants three tries for this stage. At the first attempt I could not solve all the problems, but I realized what subjects I had to improve, and I began to prepare further. The second time – after about a week of preparation – I passed the test without any problems.

  • What kind of practice did you get during the training? What project did you do together with other students as part of team development? What tasks were specific to you?
  • With two backenders I created a service for parking lot owners Parking online. This is a solution to automate accounting and management, as well as an electronic workplace for the parking operator.

For me it was the first big project and a very cool experience. Initially we were going to develop the service, but then I realized that at this stage I was more interested in development. And so is everyone else. Unfortunately, the website hosting was paid and already finished, but there was a presentation and a series of tutorial videos on YouTube about how to use the service.

Along the way, we did a lot of small tasks as part of our hands-on assignments. I also wrote a lot for myself as I delved into the technology. I quickly realized that you can only get a good grasp of something when you have a hand in it.

Therefore I put all the code I wrote during my studies and on my own initiative into my repository on GitHub. I think this is very important – a developer collects a portfolio from small projects.

  • After learning your profession, you stayed at GeekBrains for an internship. What did it look like? How long did it last? Who supervised it all?
  • In fact the internship was a real job – the task was as close to a real job as possible: we rewrote one of the sections of the GeekBrains site in React. To tell the truth, we had no time to do it completely – after a month I got a full-time job and other tasks began.

The point is that rewriting working code and making it look more modern and cleaner is important, but not a primary task. In a live project there are always things which are more necessary and topical at a given moment.

We were supervised by a team leader from GeekBrains. I’m still in his team. The trial period is already behind me. By the way, in Mail.ru there is a tradition: after successfully passed probation you get slippers with the company logo. 🙂 So you feel at home.

  • What did you have to learn during your internship?
  • From the very beginning I had to learn new technologies: GraphQL, TypeScript, Apollo, Styled components.

  • When you applied for the internship, did you already know that you could end up getting a Junior position at GB?
  • Yes, we were told that based on the results some of us could be hired. As I tell my daughter, the adult world gives no guarantees, but it gives opportunities.

  • What were your impressions of your studies?
  • I liked it very much, but it was hard. Most of the guys in our group already had layout and/or programming experience, and I had to learn everything from scratch. Sometimes I had to stay at my computer all night to be able to hand in my HTML course assignments in time.

For me, learning from real projects is an extra motivation. Here you cannot drop everything and convince yourself that you will start all over again later. You have the responsibility, and you do what you can. Fortunately, if you don’t understand something, you can ask your supervisor and colleagues for help.

  • Has the technology stack you use at work now changed much since you studied?
  • Virtually unchanged. I use the basic things I learned in GB: modern JS, React, HTML 5, CSS-grid, plus the technologies I learned during my internship (I mentioned them above).

  • In what direction are you going to develop further, what are you going to study?
  • At the moment I’m mastering React Native. I will continue to develop as a frontend developer. I like this direction – it is in demand and, as it seems to me, I have a lot to learn in this field. Moreover, there is someone to learn from: I am very lucky with my team leader. In addition to his extensive knowledge, he has an excellent patience. 🙂

Conclusion

So in conclusion I want to say thank you to GeekBrains. I can say from my own experience: here they train specialists who they are willing to hire themselves.