April 24, 2024

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Mentorship Platform from Kazakhstan Unlocks Opportunities for Tech Careers

3 min read
Mentorship Platform from Kazakhstan Unlocks Opportunities for Tech Careers

ASTANA – Picture a platform that understands the job market for leading tech companies and helps one acquire the necessary skills and experience to secure positions at one of them. That is what Kazakh mentorship platform Exponential Program is all about, said its co-founder Nazerke Kalidolda in an interview with Digital Business IT media.

Nazerke Kalidolda. Photo credit: digitalbusiness.kz

Established in 2021, the Exponential Program helps students and recent graduates learn the skills required by future employers, including preparation for the interviews and advice on the necessary experience. The main goal of the program is to help job seekers manage their time more efficiently and speed up the employment process.

The platform started out as a passion project for Kalidolda and the other three co-founders to accelerate women’s careers in IT by making mentorship more accessible. Drawing from Kalidolda’s extensive experience as a software engineer, including a job at Google, it was apparent that the IT field remains less accessible for women.

Nazerke Kalidolda. Photo credit: digitalbusiness.kz

“With other co-founders, who are three guys, we agreed that girls nowadays have much fewer opportunities to get an offer from a big company. Despite some progress, a belief that the IT field is not for the ladies persists in the world. Partially for this reason, many people give up on technology majors because you’d be the only girl in the group. This creates an uncomfortable environment. Unfortunately, within our field, men are inherently perceived as more valuable. We wanted to create equal conditions for all,” said Kalidolda.

Later, based on market feedback, she realized there was a need for a more integrated approach to career development. Now, the program extends its support beyond solely women, and as of this year, it welcomes not only software engineers but also individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Last year the program had a talent pool of around 800 candidates among whom 30 were selected for the mentorship.

“Many of them are from Kazakhstan. However, it is worth making a remark that most of our guys study or live in countries in Europe, the USA, and Canada. They have a suitable background: their command of English is at a high level, and there is no need to move. However, we do not ignore those who live in Kazakhstan. Ability and portfolio remain a priority,” said Kalidolda.

Mentors from the Silicon Valley companies and technology corporations guide program participants. The majority of program graduates secure employment at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Bloomberg, and other high-profile companies.

The program accepts people with various backgrounds and they work on their portfolios under the guidance of industry professionals.

“There are people who come in with ‘empty spaces’ in their CVs. The first task we give them is to work on a project to strengthen their portfolio. There are cases where the track record is solid, but the CV is as bad as it gets – it doesn’t sell. Then, together, we rewrite it to meet the requirements of the desired company,” said Kalidolda.

“Next is preparation for the interview: technical, behavioral and systems engineering. The mentor tells you what to say, how to present yourself. At the same time, homework is assigned: mostly tasks on algorithms and data structures. When we see that a person has reached the right level, we start sending his or her CV to employers,” she added.

After earning a 25 million tenge (US$55,000) profit in the first round early last year, the Exponential Program is planning to increase revenue fourfold in the next rounds by expanding staff and increasing the duration of the program to 12 months.

In future, Kalidolda hopes to keep the mission to give young people the opportunity to get their dream job.

“How this will look technically in the future is hard to say. I want our project to be in line with technological trends and help people to be competent and competitive,” she told Digital Business.


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