Forbytes is always supportive when our employees show initiative, notably when it comes to the development of Ukrainian IT education. Therefore, we were more than proud of Roman Zhyla, a member of the Forbytes team, to take part in the Mentors Support Program initiated by Lviv IT Cluster 

Within the program, he had a chance to share his experience and knowledge with students of the Cybersecurity program at Lviv Polytechnic National University to help them successfully create their own project and present it at the exam.  

To share with you about Roman’s experience of being a mentor, we asked him to tell us more about his participation in the program, why he chose to take part in it, and how his experience helps him to become a helpful mentor. 

How did you join the Mentors Support Program of Lviv IT Cluster?

I selected the specialty and the team of students. Cybersecurity, the direction I selected, is fascinating to me. Also, I liked the project idea that was developed by the student’s team. 

What does the process of mentoring look like, and what is your role in the team’s work?

The team consists of 6-7 students, the roles are distributed between all members. We have set up our workspace in Trello and hold online meetings twice a week. I share my experience and materials that should help students carry out the project successfully. They can ask me any questions or ask for help when communicating with the professor. 

In addition, I help them set priorities since the team I chose is quite ambitious and wants to continue working on the project even after they get the credit. 

What helps you to be a good mentor? 

I think it’s my prior experience. After graduating from university, I had a small team, and we worked together on different projects. Also, while working for various companies, I learned from my mentors a lot.  

I learned how to teach others and used these skills to train young professionals. Each mentor has their own approach, including the one in Forbytes, the company I now work for. Learning from different mentors allows me to capture the best of each teaching method. 

I love to share my experience and knowledge, and I like to be useful to other people. This probably is one of the main reasons why I decided to join the program. 

Why did you choose the direction of cybersecurity?

I have been interested in this subject for a long time. Back in school, I was interested in finding security vulnerabilities. When I got older, I started thinking about how these vulnerabilities could be fixed. 

In addition to the specialty, I liked the team and their project. Unfortunately, the period of my mentoring with this team will end soon (it should have lasted for 3 months). I will have to select a new direction, the work on this direction may last for a year. I think it will be no less interesting. 

At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be a good mentor, so I picked a short-term project. But I see that everything is working out for me. We are confidently moving towards a successful project realization, so I feel I am ready for a project that will last longer. 

What is the purpose of the Mentors Support Program?

The purpose of the program is to teach students to do everything on their own. We do our best to push them in the right direction, but the students have to work on the project themselves. My task is to direct them towards the successful implementation of the project. In some cases, a mentor may suggest an idea for a project if students find it difficult to come up with their own. But mentors do not do all the work for them, of course. 

In your opinion, how can IT education be improved in Ukraine?

When I was a student myself, we had a lot of theory and not so much practice. In my opinion, it’s hard to understand theory without practice. When I explain something to students, I always try to demonstrate it in practice. 

I believe that the theory should be closely intertwined with practical classes. Classes should be interesting and should give students the opportunity to do something on their own. Understanding that they have achieved something would encourage them to take an active part in the learning process. 

What are your impressions of participating in this program?

I chose a fascinating direction and a team that is very interested in both the process itself and the successful implementation of the project. They are easy to work with because they listen to my advice. If someone likes to share their experience like I do, joining this program will be the right decision. 

About Lviv IT Cluster Mentors Support Program 

The program aims to combine all stakeholders’ interests and needs to shape the community of mentors who are ready to work on IT education development in Lviv. 

The goal of the mentoring program is to encourage professionals to join external mentoring, foster mentoring as a crucial part of employee development, and promote the development of the mentoring community within Lviv IT Cluster. 

Also, the program contributes to the development of IT education in Ukraine by offering the students the knowledge and support of experienced IT specialists.