Conversation with a networking prodigy

Valery Linkov built his first radio at age six, assembled his first computer at 12, won a national competition at age 18, and today, at 21, is a Cisco Networking Academy instructor. Valery was interested in computers as far back as he can remember – but living in his hometown of Moscow, Russia made it challenging for him to access to the necessary tools or equipment. Networking Academy had the opportunity to talk with Valery to learn what makes him tick, why he’s so passionate about teaching, and what excites him about the future of networking.

Please tell me about yourself.

I’m 21 years old and was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. All my life, I have been interested in technology. In my childhood, there were difficulties with technology and the economy as a whole in my country. So, I tried to come up with some ways to help myself and my family by inventing all sorts of engineering pieces.

My family could not buy a computer at the store. It was a lot of money for us. So, at the age of 12, I assembled a PC from old parts off of decommissioned school computers. I loved working with computers and noticed that my friends and classmates became interested in the details of my activities. I began to answer their many questions, explain how and what I did. Out of this, a desire arose to explain to people about computers in the most understandable way. I talked about the technical aspect, and my mother helped me with pedagogical tricks since she was a teacher. As it turns out, this has become my calling to this day!

At what age did you first discover your passion for technology?

I became interested in computers at age four when a "strange machine" (laptop) appeared. I began to study electrical engineering, and at age six assembled my first radio, and at ten I learned to work with computer programs (in those years, in Moscow, there were old modems, and you could only sit at a computer at night). So it was a natural progression for me to assemble my first PC at 12, and then everything went only incrementally.

At what age did you join Cisco Networking Academy?

I joined Cisco Networking Academy when I was 16, while I was attending School 1840. Before that, in fifth grade, I studied computer science and mathematics. Due to the lack of technical supply, we studied algorithms on block diagrams and wrote computer programs on paper. After the lessons, I came home and checked these programs on my PC.

Fortunately, I was noticed by our new computer engineer, Sergey Starokozhev. He was an instructor with Cisco Networking Academy and suggested that I start taking courses. I immediately agreed and completed the IT Essentials course in only three months, with a score of over 95 percent. Then I began my true IT training.

What did you enjoy most about Cisco Networking Academy?

Availability. I was able to learn everything at a professional level despite the difficulties in my country. This is what I now adore about Cisco Networking Academy. No matter how much money you have, what kind of PC you own, or how old you are – you can start training and join the in-demand IT field. Networking Academy provides opportunities for everyone!

Tell me about the image processor you created that won so many awards. And which awards, or competitions, did it win?

In 2015, I went into the tenth grade and continued to study various topics in the IT field. Impressed, I went to National University of Science and Technology in Moscow. I was extremely interested in their image recognition technology. Based on the knowledge and best practices I obtained at the university and at Networking Academy, I created an image processing program.

The program analyzes the image using mathematical formulas. It was possible to launch it both on the PC and the phone. It turned out to create a program that could determine the quality of the superconducting cable (the concentration of niobium in copper), identify the fracture, and its location, as well as check the barrel quality of the famous Kalashnikov assault rifle (AK-47). As a result, the project was exhibited at various city events and won four contests, including second place in Engineers of the Future 2017.

Tell me about your career, and what skills did you learn through Networking Academy that have helped you most in your career?

After school, I went into the IT industry. I started developing websites, creating networks, and programming AI on a freelance basis. It was then that I realized how important my Cisco Networking Academy training was for me. Absolutely everything is connected to networks. Websites work using network protocols, the network is assembled according to the rules, and AI programs will self-learn only on the network, and the neurons are connected to each other like a PC on the network.

Given my experience, I soon realized that it was time for me to obtain CCNA certification. There was no money for training, but I managed to save up for the book. This was one of my best investments. I figured out how to connect networks correctly and how our whole world works. I also learned the pure form of cause and effect. So in no time, I became a very popular developer with a large number of orders.

Why did you become a Networking Academy instructor? And where do you teach?

At the age of 21, while thinking about the direction of my career, I thought, “What if people are made to understand computers better?” That’s when I decided to become an instructor. I want to show children more than what is taught in school, which is similar to what Alan Turing, an English mathematician, computer scientist, and logician, learned in 1940. I want to prepare them for what will happen in 2040! The best tool for this is the Cisco Networking Academy.

I was accredited to be an instructor through the Moscow ORT Technological School. Today, I’m a Cisco Networking Academy instructor at Moscow School #2107, as well as at the Learning Resource Centre «Ramix», in Moscow. I’m engaged in science; not of the past, but the future. My goal is to help my students easily understand networking and to always strive to learn something new myself.

What do you love most about your job?

My favorite part of my job is the students! I love to teach and show them that they can understand. My favorite phrases from my students are, "And so it was possible?!" or "How did I not think of this before?!" Such questions are admirable for both them and me. At such moments, I understand that I was able to show them something truly new and explain something complicated in simple language, so that they can easily learn.

What excites you most about the future of networking?

Quantum computing. In my opinion, quantum algorithms can create a big breakthrough in science and the technology of networking – but there is also a big risk. In my opinion, combining the technologies of neural networks and quantum computing in networks can create something breathtaking!

Valery is one of 28,400 Networking Academy instructors in 180 countries. Networking Academy is licensed free of charge to learning institutions to help people develop skills in IT, networking, and cybersecurity. More than 12.6 million people in 180 countries have participated in the program since 1997. 



Start your own journey to become an IT professional and explore courses in networking.


Discover how you too can become a Networking Academy Instructor.