I’m the 7th Toptal Scholarship Winner! #humblebrag

Reblog from Toptal’s Press Release:

San Francisco, CA, May 31, 2016 — On October 21, Toptal launched Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women, 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 seventh winner of the scholarship, Hsiao Wei Chen, a game developer from the Philippines who aspires to start her own incubator for game developers in Taiwan and the Philippines. She plans to put the scholarship winnings towards a Master’s Degree in Video Game Enterprise and Production at Birmingham City University in the UK, which in turn will help Hsiao develop the business knowledge she needs to start her gaming incubator.

Ultimately, Hsiao wants to understand every part of the game development process, “from programming, to completion, to distribution, and marketing,” so she can empower other game developers in her home country to independently develop their own games and bring them to market.

“Hsiao has a big dream, and she’s very driven to achieve it,” said Anna Chiara-Bellini, Toptal’s Director of Engineering, who leads the scholarship’s committee of judges. “Gaming is a very tight niche so she has a hard task at hand. Plus, her dream of starting an incubator in the Philippines is a really difficult challenge. We were nervous the project was too big for one person to take on.”

“However, when Hsiao explained how much she knows, how much she loves the gaming industry, and all the ideas she has to help her thrive in such a difficult market, we knew if anyone was up for the challenge, she was. We’re committed to helping her pursue her Master’s Degree and matching her with the right mentor to help make her gaming incubator dream a reality.”

As a scholarship winner, Hsiao will receive $5,000 to further her educational and professional development goals, as well as a year of weekly one-on-one dedicated mentorship from a senior software engineer from the Toptal network.

Hsiao’s Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women application

Hsiao first learned about the scholarship while looking for opportunities to help her pay for her Video Game Enterprise and Production Master’s Program. She was immediately drawn to Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women because the application required that she contribute to GitHub. A major contributor to open source, Hsiao keeps a blog where she posts tutorials on how to develop games and use plugins for Android and iOS.

Collaboration and teaching are integral to Hsiao’s learning process. She explains, “Whenever I learn something myself, I post about it on my blog and answer other developers’ questions.” Contributing on open source as part of the application was a clear way for her to continue her existing habit of honing her skills while giving back to the developer community.

The one-on-one mentorship will provide her critical guidance in developing her skills as an engineer and an entrepreneur. “I still have lots of skills that I need to develop,” Hsiao said. “Having a mentor who I can go to with all of my questions is going to be really awesome and critical to my success.”

About Hsiao

Hsiao developed a love for programming in high school and earned her degree in Computer Science in college. “I was always a member of my school’s computer clubs and multimedia clubs,” Hsiao reflected. After graduating, she moved from the Philippines to Taiwan and looked to build the same support systems she had found in those clubs. She learned about Global Game Jam, a hackathon in which a multitude of game developers in Taiwan get together and code for 48 hours straight to build new games.

By getting to know the small but vibrant “indie game developer community” in Taiwan, Hsiao developed her dream of making independent game development a more feasible career path for aspiring developers – and especially aspiring female developers – back in the Philippines.

“Because we’re still a so-called third-world country, it’s really hard for developers to go out on their own and pursue great ideas for new games,” Hsiao said. “There’s little to no financial incentive to go after these ideas, no matter how good they are, and I know many very talented developers who would create amazing games if only they had the financial capabilities. That’s why I want to create an incubator – to give them that support.”

Hsiao’s own game development process is a family affair – both of her sisters and her roommate are artists, so whenever she creates a new game concept, she has three artists at her disposal to help her visualize and build out the product.

Currently, she is working on an IoT pedometer for kids called Nabi Compete, which lets users earn coins for steps. They can turn those coins into play games and buy food for their virtual pets. “The idea is to get kids more active, inspire some healthy competition, and make exercise really fun.” With each iteration of her apps, she bounces ideas off of her siblings, who are both extremely well versed in both 2D and 3D design.

Ultimately, Hsiao hopes to create an equally collaborative work environment for game developers and artists in order to turn game development from a super niche, tiny industry in the Philippines to a booming community of empowered independent developers.

Please join us in congratulating game developer Hsiao Wei Chen on becoming the seventh winner of the Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women program!

About Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women

Toptal STEM Scholarships for women are a series of 12 scholarships for women that are awarded monthly over a year, with Rachell being the fifth 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 prior scholarship winners are Rojina Bajracharya from Nepal, Ana Sustic from Slovenia, Gabriela Mancini from Argentina, Tondi Butler from America, Rachell Calhoun, also from America, and Yasett Acurana from Bolivia.

To apply to Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers and for more information about the program, visit https://www.toptal.com/scholarships.

About Toptal

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.

Media Inquiries

Joellen Ferrer
Toptal, LLC
+1 (415) 308-8209
joellen@toptal.com

I’m so happy ❤ ❤ ❤

Oh also, like mentioned, I’m moving to UK in September! Yeah!

Thank you Toptal, the best mom and dad, lovely sisters, beloved grandma and auntie.

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How to attend game / tech conferences for FREE?

Yes, that sounds like a click bait (but it’s not, I swear).

I have spent the last month in 5 countries, a bunch of airplanes and some ferries, and I just got back home and I’m tired and still groggy.

Okay, I was only in two countries for conferences, namely Casual Connect Asia in Singapore, and Rise Conference in Hong Kong (look those up, they are awesome). The other three are for vacation.

If you had looked those two conference up, and checked the ticket prices, you’ll find out that they are quite expensive (at least for someone broke like me- the indie game developer with a day job).

Okay, let’s cut right to the chase.

There are actually quite a few ways to get free tickets, but I’ll just share mine. I’ll also give you some tips on how to stay on budget (Tip #1 learn to love budget flights).

If you had been following me on Twitter or reading this blog (sorry, had been absent lately), you’d know that I love game jams. In case you don’t know what a game jam is, it’s this: you get 48 to 72 hours to make a game based on the given theme from scratch (fun, right? lots of coffee involved though). So earlier this year, I went to Global Game Jam, and they raffled away tickets to Casual Connect Asia. For my case, no one else at our GGJ site actually wanted the tickets, so I took them. So yeah, that is the first way to get free tix- attend community events in case they hand out conference tix for free (but no really, you should attend those events anyway, they are great).

For Rise Conference, they actually started two initiatives, one is to get more Women in Tech (we are still sadly a minority, and there should definitely be more of us) to attend the conference, and the second is for people who contribute to Open Source. So yah, if you are either, you can get free tix. I just got my tix from Women in Tech.

If you have a game or a startup you can always sign up for Indie Prize or Rise Alpha or Beta or Start. But let’s say you didn’t get in those (competition is tough).

Okay, what if you are neither of those things? No worries. Most game or tech conferences actually need volunteers. Lots of volunteers (cue photo of us happy volunteers). So yah, volunteers get free tix too, in exchange for some hours of work (for CC, it’s for a days work, and for Rise it was for 1 and a half days work). But after your shifts you get to enjoy the conference like the rest of the attendees. Also you get a free shirt. Also you get to meet a bunch of awesome people, like those happy smiling people in the picture below.

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So what do we actually do as volunteers? There are different roles, and the organizers usually let you pick what you want to do. And you can get to do everything (registration, goody bag packing, ushering, crowd control, bringing water to speakers, assisting booths, basically all kinds of things).

Plus point, you can add volunteer work to your resume.

Okay, okay, so the question is: volunteering only get you free tix? What about travel and accommodations and food?

For those two, food is actually provided (Well, CC was catered for all attendees, anyway). So that solves the problem of lunch. And for dinner, there are actually quite a few night events (or parties) that come with free food and drinks (free flowing beer at CC, by the way).

Next, is travel. I think I already mentioned budget flights. So yah, go for those. The thing about budget flights though, is well, you get what you pay for. And as long as it does the job of safely delivering you from point A to point B, well, I’m satisfied with that.

For accommodations, well, just because the conference is held in Hard Rock Hotel, doesn’t mean you need to stay there (although they do offer discounts. they also sometimes partner with a couple of other hotels and offer discounts). Be less picky and you can get away with only spending 2000 Taiwan dollars on a week’s stay (well, I only got a bed. But I was at the conference all day and night anyway, I just needed a place to sleep).

And if you have a bit of wanderlust in you, you can even spend a few more days exploring the cities or traveling to nearby countries (hence, my additional countries for vacays).

And I suppose another question is why attend these conferences? Well, I personally think, that everyone should step out of their doors, and see the world and see what the rest of the world are doing. Why live in a bubble when the rest of the world is so big?

Feel free to chat me up on twitter or leave me a comment below.

I’ll try to post more often.