Andrea Burazor is not afraid of a challenge. Full of drive and with a clear vision for her career, it’s not hard to see why this high-achieving third year Bachelor of Computer Science (Deans Scholar) is on a fast track to success.
Born in Montenegro, Andrea’s family left the former Yugoslavia in 1992 and settled in the Illawarra when she was eight years old.
After completing high school in 2007, and with her sights set on a study area which she thought would deliver an abundance of job opportunities, Andrea completed a Bachelor of Commerce. After working in the industry for around three years, she decided to choose again.
An international adventurer, it was during one of her many overseas odysseys that she received clarity on her next direction.
“I had done a six-month stint volunteering abroad in Peru, spent a year and a half in the UK, a year in Dubai, and around seven months backpacking Europe.
“It was on this trip to Europe that I made friends with a number of people working in the software engineering and development world, and I was immediately drawn to the inherent remoteness of the work – they could work from anywhere, maybe I could too! The aspect of problem-solving became apparent quickly, which was also very enticing.
“When I returned to Aussie soil, my mind was made up. I put together an application for UOW’s CompSci degree, received a response very quickly, and two weeks later I was sitting my very first lectures and coding ‘Hello World’,” she laughs.
Fast-forward to her third and final year of her second university degree, this ambitious mature-age student has left a trail of excellence in her wake.
Earlier this year, Andrea was awarded the ‘Do Your Thing’ scholarship designed to support high-achieving female developers studying Computer Science, as well as the Most Promising Computing Professional Industry Prize, awarded for excellence across a portfolio of School of Computing and Information Technology subjects and activities.
She says receiving the Do Your Thing scholarship in particular, enabled her to buy new equipment to support her studies.
“I’ve been able to invest in a new laptop – For the better part of the degree I was lugging around a five-year-old Acer!
“It’s really generous and brilliant that young women can be sponsored in this burgeoning and heavily male-dominated industry. Sometimes, being the minority means feeling like you constantly have to prove you deserve a place at the table, and being awarded scholarships like the Do Your Thing can really reaffirm that sense of belonging and push you to do your best,” she affirms.
While 2020 has proved rather challenging for most, earlier this year Andrea added another significant achievement to her repertoire, leading team alyTech in their pitch to win the inaugural 10K Club entrepreneurs competition.
The brainchild of UOW alumnus and successful serial entrepreneur, Matt Bullock, the bespoke 10K Club competition was created for second and third-year computer science and engineering students, in collaboration with UOW. Matt established Spinify Foundation to reward and encourage entrepreneurship in university students.
Feeling motivated by the opportunity and keen to solve a problem with her new-found developer capabilities, Andrea and a group of fellow students made the winning pitch with their idea.
“We are developing CoLAB, a group study app that uses a unique algorithm to place students in peer-supported study groups that are the right fit for them.
“Winning was really validating, both for the idea and for our group as a whole. We are all high achievers who came together over the course of the past three years and decided to work on the capstone project together. And this solidified the faith in our capabilities as a group as well,” she explains.
In addition to winning the $10K prize, Andrea and her team are also benefiting from Matt Bullock’s professional mentorship and ongoing encouragement as they continue to develop their app.
Committed to her craft, Andrea took the initiative to secure an internship in the first year of her degree. After the three month internship at Wollongong-based FinTech company, FinoComp, she was offered a position as Junior Software Developer, where she’s been employed for more than half of her degree, affording her real-world experience and a flying start to her career.
“My trajectory is yet to be seen, but I want to start by specialising in one area, so far I feel I’ve naturally fallen into front end development,” she shares. “In future I see myself as a project manager, and beyond that who knows. Sky’s the limit.”
As a woman in what’s traditionally been a male-dominated industry, Andrea says she feels positive about the experiences she’s had to date, and encourages other women to get involved.
“I think that there’s really no reason not to do it. It’s an evolving industry that values different perspectives, and despite being male dominated, for me has never felt like a boy’s club.”
“My advice to anyone would be to find your passion and follow it. If that’s computer science don’t let anything stop you.”