Discovering your dream job: Advice from alumnus Oleg Veryovka

Hear from UAlberta alumnus Oleg Veryovka on how he came to work at Electronic Arts, Amazon, Google, and beyond.

Katie Willis - 13 August 2020

To students considering careers in industry, University of Alberta alumnus Oleg Veryovka (’93 MSc, ’95 MSc, ’99 PhD) has some important advice—namely, there is no one, right way to get where you’re going—and the dream job is a journey, not just a destination.

“There isn’t one path to follow. You have to dream bigger than what you see immediately in front of you—and you can’t know what is out there unless you start to look,” said Veryovka. And the best way to start looking? According to Veryovka, it’s to broaden your horizons and seek out diverse perspectives.

Veryovka is an alumnus of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science three times over, and is currently employed as an engineering manager and technical lead at Google. He has also worked closely with other tech giants, including Amazon and Electronic Arts (colloquially known as EA Games). His areas of expertise include augmented reality, computer graphics, machine learning, and now, speech intelligence. 

Veryovka explains that his passion for lifelong learning was nurtured during his time at UAlberta, where he completed a master’s of science in the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences followed by a PhD in the Department of Computing Science

“For me, the unique part of studying at UAlberta was that we had leading researchers in computer graphics and in machine learning,” Veryovka said. “It happens that I’ve spent a lot of my career working in computer graphics, and now I’m doing machine learning. I’ve worked outside of my area of expertise a lot over the last 20 years, and I feel that I’ve been well set up for my career by my time in graduate school.” 

For the past 18 months, Veryovka has returned to his alma mater to connect with current students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, postdoctoral fellows, and even alumni through the Distance Mentoring Program offered by the Office of the Dean of Students

Offered at a distance, the program is flexible, providing participants one-time or ongoing mentorship opportunities either one-on-one or in a group. And in the light of COVID-19 when it is important to keep socially connected while remaining physically distant, the video-conferencing format is a perfect fit. 

“The main thing that I want to share is that working at Google, Amazon, or any other company is not something that is out of reach,” he said. “There is a perception that there is a magic set of courses that you have to take to get to your goal. What I want to share is that getting a job at your dream company is reachable by everybody. There isn’t just one path to follow. There are so many options and possibilities open to you. Gathering diverse perspectives and new ideas is how you will move forward—and how you’ll help to move society forward, as well. ” 

Through the mentorship program, Veryovka shares his valuable insight and career experience in the increasingly important and often intimidating field of information and technology. And his background helps participants as they hone their own interests and understanding of this dynamic industry—something that was invaluable for Veryovka for his own career path. 

“I immigrated to Canada 30 years ago. Through luck and through exposure, I got where I am today. UAlberta was a big part of that,” said Veryovka. “I want to encourage students not to believe that they are limited by anything. I want them to see that the world is at their fingertips. It’s really about seeking people out and hearing the perspective of people who have gone down different paths.”

Learn more about the Distance Mentoring Program or meet other members of our community of alumni in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science