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In the shoes of an Ocado Technology Bootcamper: What should participants expect from the program?

Philip Yankov, CEO, x8academy, and Desislav Kamenov, Head of Engineering at Ocado Technology Sofia, Ocado Bootcamp
Image credit: Desislav Kamenov, Head of Engineering at Ocado Technology Sofia (left) and Philip Yankov, CEO, x8academy (right)
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Next month the Sofia development center of Ocado Technology will welcome the participants of its first Ocado Technology Bootcamp, powered by x8academy. The Bootcamp is an advanced intensive learning program that is free and created especially for motivated university students and people, who have recently joined the field of software development. It provides them with the opportunity to gain the skills that only the top engineers have. 

Ocado technology Sofia center will provide 30 university students and professionals who are selected among all applicants with a free 15-week-long learning program in software development, microservices, data science, soft skills, and more. Everyone who wants to join the next generation of robotics and software innovators and, for example, change the way the world shops can apply online until the 23rd of August. 

In this first training of its kind in Bulgaria, Bootcampers will receive personal training from one of the most experienced engineers and trainers in Bulgaria – Philip Yankov from x8academy. They will also be interacting directly with Ocado Technology’s tech pioneers, who are pushing the boundaries of technology innovation in robotics, AI, and software engineering. The Recursive team talked to Philip Yankov, CEO, x8academy, and Desislav Kamenov, Head of Engineering at Ocado Technology Sofia to learn what a day in the life of a bootcamper will look like and to find out how they can make the most out of their experience. 

Mentors with a mission

In his role in the company as a head of a department, Desislav Kamenov, who is also the co-founder and CTO of two social platforms – KindLink and Transformify, has always aimed to build and nurture an environment that encourages collaboration. Besides being the CEO of x8academy, Philip Yankov, is also a NASA Space Apps Challenge Global winner, BAIT award winner, and a patent holder who has more than 11 years of experience as a software engineer. 

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So, why would specialists with so many professional obligations choose to invest their time teaching the new generation of engineers? The answer is simple: out of personal motivation. “I have a dream to take the Bulgarian IT ecosystem to the next level by providing quality education that actually makes a difference. I believe that knowledge sharing is the best way for IT specialists to reach professional growth. That is why I have decided to serve this community by sharing my know-how and training people,” Yankov explains. 

Kamenov shares that at the Bootcamp he sees his role as a mentor helping the talents jump-start their career and learn to trust the power of the team. “I find this to be a critical skill which engineers need to develop, in order to be able to create flawless code, grow with their teams and enjoy what they do,” the Head of Engineering adds. 

What will the journey of the bootcampers be like?

Before going into the nitty-grits of the schedule of the program, Kamenov shares a key insight: “This is a piece of advice I’d give anybody on the verge of enrolling in any learning program: motivation is key to success. If you are passionate about software engineering and clear with yourself that your goals are to get ahead by investing in your professional development you can be amazed by the results.” 

The journey of the participants will begin with Intro to programming and will go through Object-Oriented Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms, Functional programming, and Frontend development. Bootcampers will also go through intensive training in UI / UX, Development Lifecycle, Relational Databases, Web Development, Distributed Systems, Software Design and Architecture, Deployment Architecture, Cloud, DevOps, Data Science, and much more. 

A day in the Ocado Technology Bootcamp

Starting on the 7th of September and taking place on workdays, the Bootcamp will consist of a 10-week training, followed by 5 weeks of devoted work on a project. So, what would a typical day in the Bootcamp look like from the perspective of the participants? 

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“Every morning we will start at 9 AM with a discussion on a specific topic – there will be a lecture, theoretical or practical, followed by sharing of knowledge among everyone. We will also exchange ideas on how to approach tasks and problems, related to the content of the training. The discussion part of the training ends at 11 a.m. We will then take a break and continue until 2 p.m., in cooperation with the mentors, who will be joining the Bootcampers each day, solving problems together,” Yankov shares. 

Additionally, he notes that starting in November, the participants will begin their 5 weeks of work, dedicated to their group project. “Participants should be aware they will be assigned to work on a real-life project, as well. The team of mentors will work together with the groups. As a bonus, we are planning on delivering Masterclasses,” the trainer comments. 

When it comes to the variety of useful resources and tools that the bootcampers will have access to, Kamenov highlights that: “To anybody who is at the point of their professional development, where they are committed to perfecting a certain craft, working side by side with the masters of that craft is the most valuable experience. Therefore I believe that the key benefit of the Ocado Technology Bootcamp by x8academy is that some of the most experienced professionals from Ocado Technology, who are creating the future of robotics, AI, and software engineering, will be personally involved with the development of the talent.”

Combining solid tech education with soft skills training

According to Kamenov, by seeing how the team of Ocado Technology communicates and interacts in the workplace, the participants will have the opportunity to boost their soft and teamwork skills. “Lead by example is the best way to frame it. At Ocado Technology we have an amazing culture, which is built on the basis of values. Some of them are trust, autonomy, and collaboration. The Bootcampers will have the chance to learn the theory behind what it takes to create a great team and what skills each member should have. They will also have to put that theory into practice during the last 5 weeks of the program where they will work in a small team towards a common goal,” the Bootcamp mentor shares. 

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In addition, Yankov shares that within his longtime mentoring practice, he has learned that the best way to teach is to have a personal approach. “Mentorship is not about delivering information on a subject. It is about assisting someone to learn what they need to know in order to grow. That is why we have only 30 places available for this free training. I want to pay special attention to each Bootcamper and their personal development,” he explains. 

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Ocado Technology is developing AI, Robotics, and Cloud systems that enable the future of online retail.
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