"I am a professional" (available in Russian) contest’s organizers see their main purpose in providing new opportunities for talented students from Russian regions. The project can serve as a tool of social mobility for talented and motivated young people: bachelors, specialists and master’s students throughout the country. As a matter of fact, all the winners of the contest will get an opportunity to get into master’s and Ph.D. programs of the best Russian universities, receive monetary rewards, take internships at leading Russian companies, as well as get listed in the national "Young Professionals" database, which recruiters of the largest companies use for getting new talent.

The selection is based on 27 program tracks, including both technical sciences and humanities. This contest is part of the open platform "Russia – country of opportunities", which supports projects for providing career incentives for talented youth and enabling their social mobility. You can read more about the contest here.

The registration for "I am a professional" contest started on November 7. In just one week,  applications from more than 550 Russian towns were received. Students from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tyumen, Krasnodar and Yekaterinburg tendered the greatest part of all applications.

Valeria Kasamara

"The most popular areas of study, as of November 15, were: computer science, mathematics, management, psychology and economics. We will keep monitoring how this rating changes in the future. We would like to remind you that every participant in the qualifying online round can apply for as many subject areas as they want," - comments project manager Valeria Kasamara.

The participants who have successfully registered can already access mock tests online. The preliminary round of the contest will be held in early December, online, and the final live stage will take place on January 27–30. And even the students who did not take part in the qualifying online stage may still participate in the finals.  In order to compete in the finals, students who have missed the preliminary round need to present at least two certificates for online courses in their chosen areas with "good" or "excellent" marks . You can look up the list of courses here (available in Russian).

That said, anyone interested can take part in the contest non-competitively. This will enable students to get to know the actual requirements of real employers. All participants will receive certificates, which will become part of their portfolios.

ITMO University is in charge (available in Russian) of the three following categories of the contest: "Computer and Information Sciences", "Photonics" and "Information and Cybersecurity."

How can one develop their skills in these areas? What motivates young professionals to work in photonics and IT, or develop new methods of encryption?  Why working in these areas is not only interesting, but worthwhile? And what kind of future do these professionals have? We have interviewed the winners of various professional competitions, CEOs and those who are already successful in their respective fields and asked them how to find the right path for professional development and what opportunities are not to be missed during one's university years.

Artur Khanov

Artur Khanov, Tutor of the Department of Secure Information Technologies (available in Russian) at ITMO and resident at Skolkovo, believes that hacking trains a computer security specialist to perform at the highest level. Working in IT allows such professionals not to sit still, but rather build their own work schedule, participate in various projects and competitions.

Arthur became one of the first participants of Capture the Flag initiative, which is a hacker competition that brings together specialists from all over the world. Khanov is positive: nowadays students from big cities and students from very small towns in Russia have the same opportunities.

Alena Schelokova

Alena Schelokova, Ph.D. student at the Department of Nano-Photonics and Metamaterials (available in Russian) at ITMO, spoke with ITMO.NEWS on how not to miss good opportunities and not be afraid to radically change your life. Alena participated in contests since high school and came from Kazakhstan to study at ITMO University. During her second year at the university, she transferred to another department and started research in photonics - an area she knew virtually nothing about.

Next step for Alena was studying metamaterials, a scientific field that was not yet so developed at that time. And once again, she was fearless. Later on she decided to apply for a Presidential scholarship to study abroad. Alena won it and spent six months in Australia doing research as part of one of the best scientific groups in her field. Now the young scientist is developing a substrate of metamaterials which will improve the work of magnetic resonance imaging. Alena’s and her colleagues’ research may save lives!

Maxim Gorlach

Researcher at the Department of Nano-Photonics and Metamaterials, Maxim Gorlach has moved to St. Petersburg from Minsk. He became a Ph.D. student at ITMO University and started doing research on metamaterials. Since then, he has managed not only work in a new field of research, but has traveled and worked as part of research groups in the US and Australia, defended his Ph.D. thesis and, together with his colleagues from ITMO, won a grant from the Russian Science Foundation. Back in school Maxim participated in competitions. Thanks to them, he could get into the university and scientific field of his choice.

And now the young scientist works in the field of topological photonics. This is a new field that enables to control the propagation of light in the structure in such a way that even if a defect is placed in the structure, the light simply encircles the obstacle and thus does not dissipate. These studies are especially relevant for creating quantum computers. At the same time, Maxim loves to teach his students at ITMO because it allows him to see the immediate results of his work here and now.

Vasiliy Leonenko

A senior lecturer at the High-Performance Computing Department, Vasiliy Leonenko creates mathematical models of disease distribution. This research makes it is possible to predict how different conditions - both weather and social ones - can affect the increase in the number of cases. Moreover, in future Vasily plans to work with the Research Institute of Influenza in St. Petersburg and try to predict the evolution of strains of different viruses. He hopes this research will enable their scientific group to predict which strain of the virus will be active in a particular given season.

The young researcher uses every opportunity to learn from his colleagues. So, he moved to St. Petersburg from Omsk because he wanted to find out how other laboratories work in the field of the mathematical modeling. Vasiliy also wants to form a small group for more extensive work on disease distribution research. He believes once the researcher has decided on the domain of their research, the next step shall be finding new opportunities and prospects for this research.

Daria Yakovleva

And if a person has not yet chosen their life path, then they shall not miss any opportunities, - suggests Daria Yakovleva, programmer and master’s student of ITMO’s Сomputer Technology Department. Daria has already won and attended an internship with Google in the US, now she is an intern at VK, she actively participates in all university activities and, at the same time, still manages to be a master’s student! She believes that the most important thing in programming is to immediately see the result of one’s work and create something new, as well as solve new problems all the time.

Don’t miss the opportunity to test your knowledge and skills - and get into the best master's programs in the country! Fill your application on the competition’s website (available in Russian) before December 5.