Some may tell you Nikita is best known for playing the balalaika and riding bears in Western Sibera. As a Lighthouse mentor, Nikita is notorious for his iOS prowess and acoustic Red Hot Chilli Peppers repertoire. Often seen waving his cosy David's Tea mug around, Nikita's passion for teaching isn't easily hidden. Don't believe us? Take a read through Nikita Kolmogorov's Teacher Feature.
Tell us about your teaching philosophy.
I believe that people are highly capable of learning almost any subject they want, and it doesn’t matter if they pick Rocket Science or Programming. If one is passionate about a topic, one can get into it using help of senior mentors. Students experience very steep learning curve while trying to become developers and mentors should simplify the learning process. I hold the point that any teacher should should be understandable, approachable, friendly, patient and always up-to-date with the latest market trends. That’s actually one of the things I love about Lighthouse Labs – we pick up technologies right after they are presented. Apple launched their Apple TV and guess what? We got a student making an app for that thing. Amazing.
Why did you decide to start mentoring?
That’s actually a seriously long story. I’ll try to keep it short for you. I admire mentors who have taught me a lot during my lifetime and understand that they have spent hours, days or even months trying to explain me things I didn’t understand back then. I was thinking about mentoring some iOS developers to give back to community when Khurram asked at ViDIA meetup if anybody wanted to become a mentor at Lighthouse Labs. Without hesitation I shoot an email towards Khurram address and became a part of the Lighthouse Labs family as a junior teacher assistant. Ultimately, I decided to become a mentor in order to pass my knowledge to as many students as possible and Lighthouse Labs provided me with this opportunity.
What do you love most about mentoring at Lighthouse Labs?
The best thing is to see how people with no programming knowledge at all become junior developers in 8 weeks and get job placements. Seriously, I started in such tempo as well: I learnt my first programming language in 48 hours on a weekend a while ago. I can only imagine what would happen if I had a senior mentor answering my questions. Another thing is being exposed to the industry. I’ll be honest with you: it’s super hard to keep up with technologies nowadays; especially with Apple introducing new devices almost annually. Lighthouse Labs constantly kicks me into learning more and more new concepts. Community is also a very important factor – I really enjoy chatting with people on my breaks about their projects or just about the latest piece of IT news. When I was learning web development everybody was super supportive and patiently answered all of my questions. And students of course! Isn’t it great to have 10-12 people every 2 months who get injected into huge companies and startups? It’s like building a very strong IT network.
What is the most rewarding part about mentoring at Lighthouse Labs?
I would say that the most rewarding part is to see students succeed in different companies; to see them understand a concept after explaining it. To be able to develop passion about programming.
What's one cool non-development job you've done?
Back in Russia I had various jobs as a student: was a camp counsellor a couple of times; worked on radio; had some experience working with advertisement agency; organised commercial flash mobs – one of them gathered more than 400 people on the main square of my home city where they “froze” for around 10 minutes. All my previous job experience was oriented on leadership skills, I was eager to learn the best practises to organise large groups of people. May be already too much, but if you ask me about which job was the coolest one, I say radio one – at least it taught me how to speak right.
What do you enjoy doing outside of teaching and coding?
I mainly enjoy spending weekends and evenings with my family and friends. Sometimes I ride my 500cc motorcycle that I’m going to switch to 700cc very soon just to get unwind from development process. Hiking occasionally – that’s what everybody is doing in Vancouver I suppose. Thinking about picking up some water sport, wakeboarding should suit me well. As a part project I consult startups – making them to get a product out on the market as soon as possible instead of continuous development process that can last years if not forever.
All in all, I think that every developer should have some kind of sport as a hobby. We sit a lot during the day, work with displays most of the time and concentrate on multiple problems simultaneously. Everybody should be able to unwind their minds being fully into some other-than-devleopment thing.
Why did you first get started with coding?
I started coding when I was 12. I actually wanted to become developer since my parents have bought me my first computer when I was 7, but got into the community only 5 years later. I don’t think I realised the potential hidden behind the curtains of development, but got my first technical article published in grade 7.
Your first coding project?
I wouldn’t consider any projects from my secondary or high school to be serious – especially because most of them were published on various hacker resources over Russian Internet as small tutorials on arbitrary technical topics. However my first serious coding project was never released. It was a game about cats overpopulation in an imaginary country and government trying to throw them over border to their neighbours. Player would be a border guard who used his big boot to kick cats back to the country of origin. I know, a little bit brutal but it had everything users needed: action, cats, explosions, more cats.
What open source or side projects are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working closely with different startups to launch their products. One of them claims to prolong humans lifes by smart suggestions and various sensors, by increasing the quality if sleep, food and sport activity. I feel like that’s going to be the new trend in the not-so-distant future. People start to realise that the only valuable resource is their time. Fortunately enough, we have launched more than 25 apps to the Apple App Store and Google Play Market and know a lot of basic mistakes every startup does. So we can suggest others on how to avoid making them!
What is your advice for aspiring developers?
Learning any first programming language is difficult, just like learning anything else in life. My advice would be to find a mentor or an experienced developer friend who can lead you through learning process – it will simplify your life a lot. And don’t jump on books right away: start with tutorials on the Internet. Practice is the key.
What has been your most memorable moment at Lighthouse Labs so far?
I think that the most memorable moments happen every 2-3 month with the end of every cohort. I love to look into eyes of people who got exposed to such power as creating something new that can scale really, really fast. They now can change the world, even working alone – thanks to Apple and Google distribution tools! It’s like building the future. I can’t explain it, I feel honoured to be a part of Lighthouse Labs community.
What's one thing students should know about you before coming to Lighthouse Labs?
Please be prepared to a very fast learning pace. It’s a Bootcamp, not a resort. Believe me, learning your first programming language will be devastating but enormously rewarding for your future life. You have 8 weeks to learn things others spend 2-6 years mastering. And believe me, we will do everything we can for you to succeed.