Silicon Halton TU20’s Summer Intern: Denys Linkov Part 1

Denys Linkov
Silicon Halton TU20’s Summer Intern: Denys Linkov Part 1
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About the Author

Denys Linkov

Denys Linkov

Denys is a third year student at the University of Toronto studying computer science and employment relations. He started programming after getting bored of Lego in grade 9 and has worked on number of projects building web and mobile applications. He grew up in Oakville and currently leads Tech Under Twenty.

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We are continuing to share the stories of young people who found summer internships through the Silicon Halton Tech Under 20 (TU20) program. This week will cover Denys Linkov and how he got involved in the TU20 program and landed a job for the summer. You can find the introductory article here.

Denys’ Story Part One

“This is the right place…right?”

I approached the familiar, but unexplored building. I found myself standing in front of the local McDonald’s, here for my first interview.

“4:25pm” read my watch. Interview at 4:30.

I walked in and asked for the manager.

“Hi, I have an interview today at 4:30pm”
“Hello there. Hmm … we weren’t expecting a Denys Linkov”

Nice; 14 year old me had messed up the location of my interview. I biked home and called the familiar voice who scheduled my interview. Turns out, I was supposed to go to the main location in this set of franchises. We rescheduled and went from there.

So missing an interview started off my work career. Fortunately, it was not indicative of my work performance; no one had their food delivered to the wrong drive-thru.

It’s been five years since I started working; what seemed like a short time is indeed a quarter of my life…oops. By a strange coincidence, I started programming five years ago as well. My original work goals were to become a manager at McDonald’s and the head camp counsellor at the summer camp I went to as a little kid. I thought that would be pretty impressive for my resume, and show that I was a responsible kid. Only one of those came true—the one where I sometimes had to lecture kids at 10pm.

Fast forward two years and I was just finishing up grade 12. With an anticipated IB diploma in one hand and a rejection letter from my top-choice university program in the other, I was looking at a summer of online contract work and going back to summer camp.

I had worked online for the past year and had some interesting encounters as a freelancing 17-year-old. I was not making $7832 a month working from home, but building mobile apps and getting paid above minimum wage was nice. I worked with some very friendly people, who also said things that I would rather not repeat. All in all, the online gig economy is an fascinating place, to say the least.

My next goal was to work locally; working at McDonald’s for 18 months was great. I was a 5-minute bike ride away from work. I wanted to work a tech job, yet it seemed that no one was looking to hire high school students.

Mid-May, my math teacher had forwarded an email to all the students he knew were interested in tech. The email was about a “Pitch Yourself” event—hmm, interesting, I thought. I wasn’t (and still am not) a very outgoing person, but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about studying for exams either.

All in all, the online gig economy is an fascinating place, to say the least.

Business Casual

“What’s business casual?”
(I still don’t really know what business casual is.)

That was the dress code for the event. So I put on a dress shirt that was usually reserved for debate tournaments and headed off to the event. Thankfully it was just up the road—I didn’t want to stay up past my bedtime.

I entered the venue and asked the receptionist where “TechUnder20 Pitch Yourself” was happening.

“Downstairs, dear”

I wandered downstairs to the meeting room and was handed a “meet your peers” tic tac toe assignment. Great, more homework, I thought. As the event progressed, I eventually became more comfortable in the environment. The event was focused on how to become more marketable as a student looking for an internship. Pitching, social media, networking, and resume prep.

Wait, wasn’t this a pitch yourself event? Oh, the actual pitching happens next week.
I ended up seeing some of my school mates at the event, but most did not end up attending day two. I drove back home and continued studying for my exams.

Day two of the event was the following week. We were supposed to have prepared our 30 second elevator pitch, researched the companies we wanted to work at, and come prepared with resumes to give out. With two companies in my crosshairs and a stack of resumes, I returned to day two of the event.

30 adults, community members and employers. 30 seconds to pitch yourself to each.

So it began.

My 30 second intro usually began with “Hello, my name is Denys Linkov and I look at the technology and business aspects when solving problems”

Round and round we went, meeting more people than I had met in the past couple of months. I ended up striking up a conversation with a small business owner who had also gone to U of T. But time was up and we had to keep going.

After making my rounds, we had some extra time to follow up with the people we met. After a couple of conversations, I headed home and finished studying for my exams. People were very friendly and open to speaking with students. Turned out the event was part of something bigger: the Silicon Halton Community.

Hello, my name is Denys Linkov and I look at the technology and business aspects when solving problems


The Job

I followed up with some of the employers, thanking them for attending. To my pleasant surprise, I was asked to come to have an interview with one of the companies, VL.
The small business owner I mentioned earlier, Robin and his business partner Scott, were interested in having me develop a mobile application for their data integration platform.

Two weeks later, I was working at VL , and by the end of the summer, the VL Omni iOS app was released. It wasn’t exactly a standard internship; I was in charge of building the iOS app. When I had any questions about iOS development, I would head to Stack Overflow (a programming forum) or iOS programming guides to supplement my existing knowledge. Within 7 weeks, the app was designed, developed, tested and prepared for release. The process was quite informal; if I had any questions about features, I would run them by Robin. If I needed any graphics, I would speak with the marketing manager, Jessica. All in all, my time at VL was an excellent learning opportunity and exceeded any expectations I had attending the Pitch Yourself night four months earlier.

This is the original app released in 2015. A rebranded version was released and can be found on VL’s website


During my time at VL, I saw a familiar face, Chris Herbert, come into the office. Where did I know him from? Right, he presented at the Pitch Yourself night about social media marketing. It was at Pitch Yourself that I had introduced myself to Chris after the sessions and asked how a former squash player got into the tech scene. It was interesting how people in the community knew each other, but I still had not fully caught on.

I’ve since kept in touch with my co workers at VL, and Jessica even mentored the winning team for the TU20 Cup! VL has since been growing, moving into a new office in Oakville.


TU20 Cup Winners 2017

After my summer at VL, I joined the Silicon Halton TU20 team, with the main responsibility of building out the website and automating some of the email and registration processes. The TU20 team was made up of U20’s (people under 20), who worked on the student events, and O20’s (people over 20 within the Silicon Halton community), who supported us and provided guidance.

By the end of my first year of working with the TU20 team, I had become more comfortable within the community and was ready to get more involved.

And that’s part one of my story! You can read part two of my TU20 internship story on Thursday.

Part Two Preview

“What kind of car is that dude?”
“A Nissan leaf, it’s electric”
“I know a guy who’s a big fan of his electric car… I’ll make an introduction, I think he would be a good person for you to meet”

Silicon Halton TU20s Summer Internships stories:

Mohammed Eseifan – Embedded Systems Engineer Intern at Geotab

Mohammed  – Embedded Systems Engineer Intern at Geotab

Griffin – Technical Systems Analyst Intern at RBC

Denys Linkov – Software Engineer Intern at Geotab

Ken – Website Designer/ IT support assistant at Halton Industry Education Council (HIEC)

Celine- Media Assistant at Halton Industry Education Council (HIEC)

Vikram – Web developer Intern at View IT


Silicon Halton TU20

Since it’s founding in 2009, Silicon Halton has brought together over 1400+ members, hosting 90+ events. Cofounded by Chris Herbert, Rick Stomphorst and Reema Duggal, Silicon Halton is going strong 8 years later.

In 2015, Silicon Halton had its first TU20 event called: “Developing Talent, Discovering Opportunities”. Since then, TU20 have hosted a number of programs and in school activities, for more information you can visit our website.


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