San Francisco, CA, February 1, 2016 – On October 21st, Toptal launched Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers, a program designed to empower and support the next generation of female computer scientists, software engineers, and developers through a combination of financial support and mentorship.
Today, we are thrilled to announce the second winner of the scholarship, Ana Sustic from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Ana is a System Administrator and Project Manager at the Blood Transfusion Center of Slovenia and a highly motivated technologist with amazing plans to build her engineering skills and use them to improve the workflow of her colleagues.
“We had an extremely competitive pool of applicants to choose from, but we were all incredibly impressed with the thought and dedication Ana put into her application,” said Toptal Director of Engineering Anna-Chiara Bellini, who is organizing the initiative and leading the committee of judges. “For her application, Ana built a Jekyll site on GitHub Pages for the annual WebCamp meeting in Ljubljana and clearly laid out ambitious plans for what she’d do if she won the scholarship.”
As a Toptal Scholarship winner, Ana will receive $5,000, as well as one year of weekly one-on-one mentorship with a Toptal senior developer, to support her as she works towards her goal of becoming a full stack developer.
“I work at a public blood bank, so while software engineering approaches would have a huge impact on the workflow of our labs in a variety of ways, there’s very little budget available for internal training,” explained Ana. “By training myself to become a full stack developer, I’ll be able to write an application for the lab at our blood bank in order to optimize its quality control process and the quality of the data it collects.”
“Currently this procedure is done completely on paper,” continued Ana. “I’d like to be able to build an entire web application they could run on tablets in the lab. It would include everything from collecting requirements to designing and building the front-end and Python back-end using a relational database on Linux, running test cases, and validating the application. It will need an authentication process, an interface for checking in and checking out lab reagents, and an entire workflow that is appropriate for the needs of our lab’s standard operating procedures. Scalable infrastructure won’t be important here, but a highly optimized workflow definitely will be.”
Ana’s Toptal Scholarships application and software engineering education
“I found out about the scholarship in October through the Django Girls Ljubljana Slack group,” said Ana. Django Girls, for which Toptal is a recurring sponsor, hosts an annual event in Ljubljana that attracts around 100 girls each time. “Miha Rekar, who is a core team developer at Toptal, wrote a message to the group about the scholarship, and since I had been wanting to get back into coding for a while, I decided to apply.”
Ana graduated with top grades from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Ljubljana, after which she earned a graduate degree in Business Administration. While she programmed in university, primarily with non object-oriented languages like Assembler, she didn’t code in the context of her job for many years following her graduation. A few years ago, Ana rediscovered her interest in programming and began taking pleasure in seeing the tangible results of the code she wrote.
Since that rediscovery, she has built Drupal and WordPress sites for friends and neighbors and for the local PMI Chapter where she volunteers, spent time with the local Drupal community, and completed the Django Girls program. Ana also worked with CodeCatz, a weekly Ljubljana-based developer meetup for women that recently stopped holding meetings due to fading interest, and developed her skills by building a Django application called Track Cat, a mini project management tool for CodeCatz, which really accelerated her learning.
Ana explains that it has been a struggle to sustain interest in engineering for women in Slovenia, and that she has yet to find a strong local community for support and mentorship that she enjoys.
“Most of my experience comes from taking tutorials and online courses like edX’s MIT Intro to Programming Using Python, jumping into the open source community, and using StackOverflow,” said Ana. “It helped that I had a lot of experience in the tech industry and some great mentors from CodeCatz and WebCamp who really pushed me into open source. I’ve seen many girls who aren’t very comfortable finding answers online, because they don’t know where to start, how it all fits together, or how the online tech community works.”
Ana was born in Rijeka, lives in Ljubljana, and spends as much time as she can at the Kvarner Gulf of the Adriatic Sea. She speaks Italian, Slovenian, English, and some German. She loves her German Shepherd dog, Scura, and spends her free time with her family, which includes her two daughters—13 and 16 years old—who love technology as well.
Ana’s dedication to her work and determination to expand her software engineering skills so that she can maximize her impact on the people around her is amazing, and has been a powerful inspiration for everyone at Toptal.
We are excited to work with Ana over the next year and support her as she works to become an experienced, confident full stack engineer. We have no doubt that her passion and drive will lead to amazing accomplishments for her in the future.
Please join us in congratulating Slovenian developer Ana Sustic on becoming the second winner of the Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers program!
About Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers
Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers are a series of 12 scholarships for women that are awarded monthly over a year, with Ana being the second scholarship winner. Women from across the world of any education level are eligible to apply to win $5,000 and a year of weekly one-on-one technical training and mentorship from a Toptal senior technologist to help them pursue their goals as future professional software engineers.
The first scholarship winner was Rojina Bajracharya, an amazing Python developer, entrepreneur, and mentor from Bhaktapur, Nepal.
To apply to Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers and for more information about the program, visit https://www.toptal.com/scholarships.
Founded in 2010, Toptal is one the fastest-growing and most innovative companies to emerge from Silicon Valley. With backing from Andreessen Horowitz, Silicon Valley’s famed venture capital firm, Adam D’Angelo, founder of Quora, Ryan Rockefeller, and other investors, Toptal today connects thousands of elite freelance software engineers and designers from around the world to over 2,000 blue chips such as J.P. Morgan and Pfizer, tech companies such as Airbnb and Zendesk, and numerous startups to provide world-class solutions that meet the most complex and challenging requirements. Toptal’s rapid growth is testimony to exploding client demand and the unmatched quality and reliability of the company’s services.
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