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Silicon Valley Will Wait: Why Do IT Specialists Choose Chernihiv?

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Supposedly knowing well what life is like in our city, we rarely associate Chernihiv with a promising site for IT industry. And for other fields as well. However, in fact, large domestic and international companies are already mastering the city by launching new projects, developing software and creating a new niche in the labor market.

Currently, more than 30 IT companies’ offices are operating in Chernihiv, such as EVO, SendPulse, Valtech, and Speroteck. More and more Ukrainian IT specialists from other cities, including the capital and million-plus ones, choose Chernihiv for work and permanent residence.

Who are they and what motivated them to make such a choice despite the common belief that in a small city the chances for professional development and decent pay are equally small? We learned the answers from five specialists of different IT companies who moved to Chernihiv and had no regrets.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

The circumstances for our heroes to move were different: some related to professional activity, some driven by the call of the heart. The latter is especially true for Maksym Tulenko. Nowadays he works at company, having travelled from the City of Leo to “the City of Legends” for the sake of his beloved:

“Having served in the army for a year and a half, I got a job as an administrator at one of Lviv restaurants. All other jobs required work experience, but I was yesterday’s conscript. However, I continued to search for better offers. At work, I met my future wife, who came to Lviv. And, as they say, everything began to spin... We decided to live together in Chernihiv. I started preparing to move, posted my CV on job search websites. And one day, when I was peacefully sleeping after another night shift, company recruiter called me, and that’s where I work now”.

Viola Horoshok, project manager of CRM Studio company, previously worked at an international auditing company in eastern Ukraine:

“Due to the events taking place in the country in 2014, the company was forced to leave the region and the employees were offered a move to Kyiv, – says Viola. – I was at the beginning of maternity leave and wanted a quieter place. The choice fell on Chernihiv. I knew this city very well since childhood, as I often came here on vacation to visit my relatives. I like the proximity of Chernihiv to Kyiv, its air and climate. Countrymen will understand me!”

By contrast, Maksym Melnyk, CEO, dreamed of moving to Kyiv from Sumy Region since school. He succeeded, studying and working in the capital for many years. He moved to Chernihiv when EVO company offered him to lead the launch of a new project – an analogue of that today is the largest platform for online trade in Kazakhstan:

“Seven years ago, our company decided to open a commercial department for its business projects, – recalls Maksym. – We considered cities that are nearby and with many young people. Among them were Zhytomyr and Cherkasy, but we decided to settle in Chernihiv, since, in addition to meeting our criteria, there is a polytechnic university here with a plenty of local youth studying”.

To become a part of a new Chernihiv startup team, Yuliia Pryma, who currently works as a marketer at 13Chat, decided to leave her job at a large cleaning company in Kyiv (it provides relevant services for apartments and other premises. – editor’s note):

“The chain of changes was triggered by a Facebook message last October that 13Chats was looking for a copywriter (a specialist for writing texts. – editor’s note) for part-time employment, – says Yuliia. – I responded to this invitation, and after completing the test task, was offered a marketer position. I agreed almost without hesitation and moved closer to the team after a while”.

Did you have to regret it?

Moving always entails changes and new experience, plus a huge stress.

Maksym Melnyk admits he had never been to Chernihiv before and did not know what to expect from the new city:

“I moved here with my wife and initially was just in shock! The first thing I noticed was the difference in pace of life between Chernihiv and Kyiv. In the capital, you are constantly rushing somewhere, running... You give away energy, but at the same time, you take it from someone. And here you only give away. At least that’s how I felt then, having responsibility to start the project from scratch.

To be honest, I didn’t believe I would stay in Chernihiv for long. I told my wife this was temporary; I would set up all processes, the team’s work, and we would return to Kyiv, – he recalls. – But we quickly got drawn: new acquaintances and friends appeared, I resumed my sports activities and just enjoyed the measured city life! During the time I live here, I had two kids, so on my example this city has a very positive impact on the demographic situation in the country (laughs)”.

By contrast, Maksym Tulenko received positive emotions from the very beginning of exploring Chernihiv:

“I fell in love with the city at first sight. It is very green, with many parks. There is a river, and it’s not underground! I couldn’t believe it when I saw coffee for 20 hryvnias in Chernihiv”.

Constantly living in Chernihiv, we do not always notice what people who come with “fresh look” see. According to Oleksandr Mitkin, project manager of Speroteck company, Chernihiv is a very comfortable city to live in, and there are several reasons for that:

“First of all, its size is not very large, and you can quickly reach its various parts even by public transport. This is especially noticeable compared to Kyiv. There are not many huge high-rise buildings in Chernihiv, particularly in the center, so it’s nice to walk through the streets”, – explains Oleksandr.

“After moving from Kyiv, I couldn’t get used to three things for a long time: absolute cleanliness on the streets, silence outside the window, and a cheap taxi”, – adds Yuliia Pryma.

Looking into the future

Today we are witnessing a rapid development of Ukraine’s IT market as a whole, but what could contribute to this trend right here in Chernihiv? According to Maksym Melnyk, an excellent example for state and local authorities can be the experience of Estonia, which demonstrated a significant growth of IT industry after Microsoft acquired the well-known Estonian software Skype.

“It is necessary to invite large IT companies here, give them certain tax benefits and preferences. Their appearance in Chernihiv will contribute not only to the market development, but also to filling of the local budget due to their tax payments”, – says Maksym.

Yuliia Pryma and Viola Horoshok agree on the need to focus efforts on the informational component:

“I consider working in Chernihiv to be my main success, – admits Viola. – Even when I was exploring the job market here, it seemed unreal to find something worthwhile in terms of salary. It was a discovery for me how many IT companies there are in the city”.

According to Yuliia Pryma, since IT potential of Chernihiv and high employment in this area can be the same revelation for many, IT companies need to bet on information support: this will help raise local youth’s awareness and also attract specialists from other regions.

The experts also note that Chernihiv needs to improve the personnel market, so that qualified specialists training takes place here.

“There is a problem of some inertia among young people. IT is a field of very intensive development, and the approaches to education now leave much to be desired”, – believes Oleksandr Mitkin.

There is always work here

For many Chernihiv residents, IT industry is still shrouded in some mystery. There is an opinion that working in IT is only about programming. Perhaps this is why young people sometimes do not dare to try their hand in this field, lacking the appropriate skills. Many decide to seek a better fate elsewhere, although Chernihiv IT industry has offers beyond the programming profession.

“I would say it’s the same stereotype as if you work in a travel company, you will definitely trip a lot, – jokes Maksym Tulenko, adding: – In fact, besides developers, there is also a very large staff of employees in marketing, support, sales, design, etc. Making a cool product is only half the battle. It needs to be known, be of interest and be bought. I personally came into IT without any experience. The first few months I constantly googled to figure out half of the terms I heard, and pretended that I was “in the know” and understood everything”.

As Maksym Melnyk points out, it is not easy to enter IT without relevant knowledge, but successful and respectable companies constantly create internships, schools, and hold educational events. Therefore, anyone who aspires to work in this field can easily gain some experience even via distance learning.

“IT is primarily about people, not programming, – concludes Yuliia Pryma. – Belief in a product unites talented, audacious and driving creators – those who are not ready to spend lives aimlessly sitting in offices from 9 to 18. There are countless open positions, just dare to submit a CV!”



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