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S&E Guarantee Pilot: Antoaneta Stefanova


Back in the day, schooling and then vocational training or university pretty much defined the kind of professional life you’d follow. But in the rapidly changing world we live in today, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to jump ship and change career paths. That often requires developing a new skillset however, which can be anything from challenging to outright daunting. But not for everyone.

Antoaneta Stefanova, from Sofia, Bulgaria, went to a maths high school and pursued a career in the culinary world: “I went to culinary school and worked in Michelin-star restaurants as a pastry chef in the US, UK and the Netherlands,” she says. “But I decided that in the long-term I couldn’t do this job. It was quite physically demanding, spending long hours on your feet - not something you want to be doing when you are 50+, so I decided to re-orient myself to something I could see myself doing for the rest of my working career.”

Having done a bit of programming back in high school, Antoaneta knew what the field of coding and software engineering had to offer. “I started with a book, learning the basics of coding, but then I went for this course to pursue it more seriously.” Taking advantage of a deferred tuition payment plan, guaranteed in part by the EU, Antoaneta signed up for a 6-month programming course at Telerik Academy. “…and I got a job just like that! I presented the final project in front of a company, got picked as best project, invited for interviews and now I work for them.”

Was it daunting? “Changing careers is the kind of thing you do once in a lifetime. It does require a lot of effort, it’s a complete change in daily routines, re-working everything around you. I can’t say it was an easy step, but I was very determined,” explains Antoaneta, who is now settling into a very different lifestyle, with better work/life balance, and without any regrets: “I don’t regret my initial career choice at all. I don’t think I would have enjoyed coding in my 20s like I do now in my 30s. But it was the right move for me now. It’s completely different but teamwork is a huge part of working as a chef and as a developer as well. No project gets finished by a single person. And there are lots of transferable soft skills like collaboration, communication…”

With demand for software engineers and IT-related skills growing, she can definitely feel that she’s on an upward trajectory. “I’m just starting out as a junior software developer, looking to pick up more knowledge, more technical skills, and move into a more senior role. With new technologies emerging all the time, you need to constantly update your skillset to keep up.”

Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Financial Intermediary: Telerik Academy

Beneficiary: Antoaneta Stefanova

Studies: software engineering; coding

Institution: Telerik Academy

EIF financing: Skills & Education Guarantee Pilot

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Bulgaria, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/bgs

Note: Following the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, we are updating the relevant EIF.org pages.


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