11:29 | 18.04.17 | Interviews | exclusive 135673

Alen Zamanyan talks his work at Google and smart kids at Tumo

Programming engineer at Google Alen Zamanyan conducted lectures on machine learning for students of Tumo centers in Yerevan and Stepanakert a few days ago.

Itel.am talked with the Los Angeles-based web developer.

- Many web developers in Armenia dream to work at a top corporation like Google and Facebook. How did that happen in your case?

- Google contacted me when I was working at the University of California, which I graduated. I just completed my master’s course at that time. First, we had a phone interview, and then they invited me to the office for the second phase. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass. I found a different job, but a year and a half later Google invited me to the interview again, and that time they hired me.

- What qualities do top tech companies consider first when hiring?

- The most important thing is education, then work experience and participation in an influential project in the past. It’s good if the candidate has all three. I think the fact that corporations often hire people from the University of California also played a part in my case.

By the way, interviews of that kind are rather difficult, and you should take time to prepare for them and make a good impression. They also ask lots of technical questions.

- This isn’t your first visit to Armenia, but the first lecture for Tumo students. What are your impressions?

- I must say I wasn’t familiar with Tumo, but I heard about it. I came, I saw, and I was very inspired. It’s a unique place for working and learning. I didn’t expect the students to grasp the machine-learning or math-related theories so quickly.

I worked at Tumo Yerevan for five days and as long at Tumo Stepanakert. The interest towards my lectures was so great that even the materials I prepared beforehand turned out to be insufficient for five days. I had a blast of energy myself from the children’s enthusiasm.

I try to come to Armenia at least every 2 years. I plan to visit again and maybe give a lecture at Tumo centers in other cities of Armenia.

-In your view, is it more effective to work in a company and then only create your own startup or it would be worth taking the risk and start your own business from the very beginning?

-I think that every programmer wants to create something new. I am also committed to founding my own startup, though I have not yet reached that point.

Both ways are accepted, but creating a startup in the beginning is much easier, as the risks are lower and you have little to lose. You have a stable salary working in a corporation, so you have a lot more to lose. Working in a startup also means acquiring a lot of new knowledge and skills in a short period of time.  

You are limited to a narrow professional topic in a corporation, while you have to concentrate on several directions at the same time working in a small team of your startup, which allows developing more skills. So you learn more in a startup than in a corporation.

-How would you estimate the growth that the Armenian IT has registered during the last years?

-It is evident that Armenian IT has developed; nevertheless, there are still empty vacancies in the sector, so a lot of work is required to train professions. The unemployment rate is high in Armenia, though the unemployed citizens do not fill the vacancies available in IT sector.

There is a lot to do in Armenia, and each of you can highly contribute to the development of IT in the country. The whole society should take part in the rapid development of the Republic of Armenia. This will benefit both Armenia and every Armenian. For example, I came to Tumo to teach something new to the kids, while I learned a lot for myself as well.

This visit was in a way experimental for me. One of my priorities was establishing connections with professionals and representatives of new generation, involved in the sphere. I plan to move to Armenia further to be able to do business here, contributing to the development of Armenian IT at the same time.

I would advise all Armenian programmers to always choose difficult tasks to be unlike everyone else and have higher probability of reaching success.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Alen Zamanyan