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In the Spotlight 9: Ola Sitarska

It’s time for another interview, this time in the Spotlight: Ola Sitarska! I don’t think she needs any introduction, but I’ll do it anyway ;-) You may know Ola from Python/Django conferences, as one of the Inspiring Fifty or from the fact that she’s the cofounder of Django Girls.

Name: Ola Sitarska
Job: Django Developer at Potato
Favorite website, app or gadget: Google Drive, I can’t live without it.
Twitter: @olasitarska
Site: http://ola.sitarska.com/

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
Since I was old enough to remember, internet always existed. I was fourteen and no one ever told me that building websites is hard or that it’s a “man’s job”. I decided that I want to build a game for my friends and just like that, I started googling all of the stuff I had no idea about and learning awesome things everyday. I knew I was hooked.

What does your working day look like?
I got up before 8, shower, put my make up on, show up at Potato office around 9. I spend my days building highly scalable applications and learning tons of new things about technology alongside talented and friendly people. After hours, I got to work with another bunch of amazing people at Django Girls, where we try to inspire women to feel in love with programming the same way we did. Whenever I’m not doing that, I hangout with my cats and  attend, organize or speak at technical conferences.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest thing I did in my life was volunteering to organize a DjangoCon Europe 2013 in Warsaw, Poland. You can see the result of a year of our work here: http://love.djangocircus.com/. We organized a technical conference in a circus tent setup on a horse racing track — I can proudly say that no one ever done this before and probably no one ever will :) It’s been the greatest magical adventure of my life that at the same time also turned my life around completely. It also allowed me to meet people who are my closest friends now, so I’ll never forget this experience.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
Absolutely! My parents are my biggest heroes and I’ll always be thankful to them for sacrificing themselves to give me all the opportunities they possibly could. My biggest inspiration comes from people I am so honored to have a chance to work with on Django Girls: Ola, the most enthusiastic and energetic person I know; Ania, who teaches me so much about having respect to my time and setting good priorities in your life; Baptiste, the emoji master and the most humble person in the world. My partner, Wojtek, who taught me to never just give up and always seek a solution. I admire his curiosity about every little thing we have in the world.

People who I don’t personally know, but are a huge inspiration: Tina Roth Eisenberg, Linda Liukas, Ella Luna & Adam Brault.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I get to build things and solve problems everyday, which fulfills me creatively and makes me feel that the work I do is worthwhile. I get to learn things everyday which I haven’t realized until recently but it’s always been my dream — I loved school, learning and I wanted to be a teacher.  I also get to do all of that alongside amazing, generous, friendly and creative people who are the open source community.

How could I not love every second of that?

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I don’t have a degree. I attempted to get one, but I was already working as a developer at the time and decided that I’m learning more at my job than in the school. Sometimes I feel like I miss some knowledge about the internet, but you can learn literally everything from the internet itself. It’s never been an issue in my career.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Don’t give up! Sometimes, especially at the very beginning, it will be hard and you will be overwhelmed with amount of things you suddenly need to learn. That feeling will pass and all you need to remember is that you can do it. Everyone can. So go and make sure to have lots of fun along the way :)

Extra question from Robin: If you know about open source, what is your favourite program/tool that you use, and why do you use/prefer this?
The home of all open source: Github itself. I love how they made the open source community much more collaborative and introduced so many tools I can’t imagine my life without now.

Thank you so much Ola! Do you also know someone who really deserves a place in the spotlight? Get in touch!