Major League: do I need a diploma to work in IT

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Almost two-thirds of Russians (64%) do not work in a specialty they received at a college or university. Most of the modern artificial intelligence (AI) specialists in the world are self-taught and did not graduate from the relevant faculties in universities. At the same time, according to the study , only 14% of the students surveyed are satisfied with university programs in this area and are sure that the information they receive on the development of AI is quite enough to successfully pass interviews, and almost 40% of respondents believe that irrelevant information is given in universities. It would seem that all these facts indicate that a higher education diploma in the field of information technology is turning into an unnecessary artifact. But not everything is so clear.
Why university IT education is still in demand and how business helps it

Indeed, the very fact of having a higher education does not determine the professionalism of an IT specialist. However, it has serious advantages. Programs in IT departments at universities provide students with fundamental basic knowledge. It is on the basis of such a strong academic base that high-class specialists grow up, who are valued all over the world. Also, studying at a university in itself contributes to the development of a person’s culture and systemic thinking, which is important in the field of IT.

University students have the opportunity to take part in IT competitions organized by companies (olympiads, championships and hackathons), which can be the first step in a career in IT. For example, it is not uncommon for students who are winners and prize-winners of IT championships on the All Cups platform to receive offers from employers.

Also at the university you can directly and for free study with a future employer. For students, specialized educational courses, programs and even entire faculties from companies – market leaders are created.

What to put on the foundation from the university: choosing a program of additional education

Getting additional education in the IT field today is already almost a basic need. At the same time, here, as in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, “you need to run as fast just to stay in place, and to get somewhere, you need to run at least twice as fast.” The standard scenario of life, when you first get a secondary education, then a higher education, after receiving a diploma you get a good job and forget about studying until your children go to school, it has not been working here for a long time.

The reality is that, on average, all universities produce specialists that meet the average level of professional requirements of the entire market, including non-core organizations that also need IT specialists. With such a background and lack of real practice, it is quite difficult to apply for a job in a large well-known corporation immediately after graduation.

In addition, many of the knowledge gained at a university becomes obsolete rather quickly – educational standards simply do not keep up with the rapidly changing IT industry.

Therefore, in parallel with studying at a university, students should deepen their knowledge and improve their skills on their own, incl. in additional courses – for example, on online platforms or at employers of which they want to become a part in the future. Business, including us, offers a lot of opportunities for this – both offline and online.

You still have to study additionally if a person wants the best for himself – to get into the best company, get the best job, have the best conditions for this job. If you start while still in your junior years at a university, you can not only save a lot of time, but also go to defend your diploma with a permanent job.

Moreover, not only beginners, but also already established specialists with extensive experience need to continuously improve their knowledge in the field of IT. “Run at least twice as fast” will always be necessary.

How to choose an IT course and not make a mistake:

  • focus on the feedback of graduates – better than those with whom you personally know
  • take a free trial class or at least go to an open house
  • choose educational programs from reputable providers and companies
  • find out which companies employ course graduates (and whether they work at all)
  • check if the course is taught by business practitioners
  • pay attention to the relationship between theory and practice: it is desirable that the course program includes team development of real cases
There are both long-term programs on the market that involve training for several months or even years, as well as intensive programs that allow you to get the most useful information and refresh your knowledge in just a few weeks or days. But the latter have a drawback: students do not have time to deeply comprehend the information and formulate questions. In longer courses, teachers can answer additional questions if something is not clear, give feedback and evaluate student progress, for example, through homework and final work.
Why is it business

When an IT company launches an educational program at a university and starts training specialists of a certain profile, it first of all solves its business problem: at a given moment in time, it needs such professionals.

However, students of such courses also benefit from such initiatives – they have serious chances to get a job in a company after graduation, and universities – their graduates become more in demand and achieve high results in their careers, thereby glorifying their alma mater and often returning to it for new graduates to solve their own problems, and the rest of the market: firstly, it receives new qualified specialists, and secondly, it rarely happens that the demand for a particular profession grows sharply only in one individual company – usually it either already correlates with the needs of other companies, or the company creates a new trend in the market, which will soon be followed by others.

For the company, an important factor is the fact that as a result it receives not only professional, but also loyal employees. Even if after completing the courses they choose another employer, it is highly likely that after a while they will return to the company even more qualified and in demand, while being aware of its role in their career at the start.

The very presence of a company in a leading university is not only an opportunity to widely present its employer-brand (translated from English as “employer brand”)and get access to the best students. This allows, first of all, to support and influence education, develop research areas and transfer knowledge to future generations. Who, how and what teaches at the university today depends on what country and with whom we will live tomorrow. The university has always been one of the most sustainable social institutions, and therefore any business that is looking to the future will always need support and synergies with universities.

A few examples of the involvement of large corporations in training from the editors of Forbes Education:

Yandex Academy

cooperates with leading universities: HSE, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, UNN, NES, UrFU, EU and BSU, focusing on practice – Yandex employees share their experience, adapt programs to market requirements, provide such knowledge that helps students immediately become top IT specialists. In 2022, the Academy launched a new program at MIPT – the Graduate School of Software Engineering. The program will train backend, frontend, full stack developers and software architects. Short-term programs include free summer Schools for novice developers, managers and designers, in which participants are upgraded in the profession, gain the missing knowledge and skills, as well as teamwork experience.


implements a number of projects for universities together with Sberbank, developing the necessary expertise and constantly developing new educational programs and projects for university students and teachers. Thus, on the basis of MIPT, the Phystech School of High-Tech Business was created, whose students have the opportunity to study with the best teachers of SberUniversity. And the project “Career of the Future” gives students the opportunity to get in-demand skills 24/7 in those areas that are not covered by the curriculum of the university.


also has been interacting with universities for a long time, recently focusing on the development of partnerships in the field of training young professionals in the field of e-commerce (electronic commerce). For example, together with the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, an online educational program “Digital Platforms and Logistics” was launched, which focuses on training innovative generalists for the emerging e-commerce market. Ozon also has online courses for beginners and intermediates who want to upgrade their skills and knowledge and become part of Ozon.

VK Education

develops education at all levels – from school to professional. The company actively cooperates with universities, provides career guidance to schoolchildren and helps the largest online learning platforms develop. VK has educational centers in 15 leading universities in the country – in such centers it relies on practical knowledge in IT. In parallel with studying at the university, students can master web development, data analysis, information security and other specialties. The best graduates of such programs can get a job at VK.

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