June 28, 2021 Sergey On Learning Code From Scratch and Rediscovering Travel Amid COVID-19 – The Topcoder Nation Show #6

Yes, our talented guest Dr. Sergey Pogodin, known as birdofpreyru, endeavored on a journey to learn Javascript, Node, Angular, and popular tech stacks (he already knew C++) to participate in Topcoder. He eventually became a two-time champion of the development track. What an adventure!

We spent a good amount of time talking about the gig lifestyle and travel, particularly before and after the pandemic. He has managed to keep traveling during the pandemic and still finds joy in it despite not leaving the country that often.

“When you think about travel you always think of somewhere far, but when confined to a small environment I started looking specifically to what is interesting to visit in a short drive from my place. I’m surprised how many beautiful things are all around if you drive for one (1) hour. I’ve lived in the area for five (5) years, I never heard of the places I’m visiting now and they are amazing.”

birdofpreyru on rediscovering travel after pandemic regulations

Besides his remarkable achievements in the development track and data science projects, it was fascinating to dig into his hobbies and off-work activities such as snowboarding, windsurfing, fiesta, and road trips in Spain, where he currently lives. 

This was definitely an educational experience on how to take responsibility for your own life as a self-made enterprise, strategies to approach Topcoder, and the travel/work lifestyle. His relaxed mood and hilarious wit made the interview very enjoyable. Embrace the gems!


These lessons, tips and advice captured my attention, they may also help you:

  • He loves traveling. You can find him on instagram as @birdofpreyru
  • Two tips for traveling during regulations: One, visit nearby areas you took for granted, you’ll be surprised to rediscover the meaning of those places. Two, read literature (suggested Treasure Island).
  • He found out about Topcoder through a Google job interview. The rest is history now.
  • As a beginner, his strategy for selecting challenges had the following criteria: is there something I can learn from this even if I don’t win cash? Additionally, join early in the timeline and avoid top contenders. 
  • He has published several papers for Academia. Find them on his website.
  • He co-starred the first ever Topcoder documentary, The Passion Economy: How the Future Works

Topcoder Nation Show #6 is up on Youtube. See timecaps below for a summary.


  • Why he moved to Spain: 02:43 – 03:15
  • His Doctorate in Chemical Engineering and software development combination: 03:30 – 04:40
  • Finding out about Topcoder through a Google job interview: 04:55 – 06:30
  • His first interactions with the platform: 06:40 – 07:15
  • Sergey as part of the Topcoder documentary: 08:01 – 09:10
  • His travels around the globe: 09:50 – 11:12
  • How to travel and work with Topcoder: 11:28 – 13:00
  • Choosing travel destinations: 14:05 – 15:45
  • Travel opportunities through Topcoder events: 16:00 – 17:28
  • His first TCO as a trip winner: 19:02 – 21:17
  • Working in a job vs full-time competition at Topcoder: 22:50 – 24:20
  • Why he prefers waking up late: 25:00 – 25:45
  • A typical day in the life of Dr. Sergey: 26:02 – 27:30
  • Snowboarding, windsurfing, and road trips: 27:30 – 29:50


We held an AMA (ask me anything) with birdofpreyru. Curious community members asked questions for him to ponder on. Watch the video from 30:50 to check out the replies to questions such as:

  • How are you able to maintain work and travel, especially during Covid-19?
  • What do you prefer – being a copilot or competing in challenges?
  • Why do you always wear a cowboy hat in the TCO photos?
  • You beat _Sky in a TCO final. Was it hard? He is very good.
  • What is your favorite TCO moment?
  • How do you win a TCO final?


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Peace out.


Are you living the gig economy lifestyle at Topcoder? Want to join fellow members? Share your story, your travels, and experiences about the ultimate goal of working at Topcoder; the freedom, the flexibility, and the earnings that make it happen! Join Topcoder Nation.

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