We first met Laurie Gray, an inspiring Scottish Treehouse student, two years ago when he shared his story with us. In less than a year of learning with Treehouse, Laurie had learned to code, switched career paths, started his own freelance business and landed a part-time job as an in-house web developer, which later became a permanent position. Since then, Laurie’s career has continued to evolve, and his journey as a programmer has taken a new direction. Today, Laurie has reached his dream career as a full-time iOS developer. Not only does his role satisfy his thirst for knowledge and intrigue for technology, but he also now works alongside a team of other talented developers.
We reconnected with Laurie to hear more about his experience evolving from web developer to iOS developer and to share his advice with other aspiring iOS developers.
What first encouraged you to learn to code and pursue a career in the tech industry?
From the moment I first saw the iOS App Store, heard about the iPhone and saw the power to put apps in people’s hands that they could physically interact with, I became increasingly interested in development. Programming suddenly became very relevant to me, however, at the time it was still shrouded in total mystery; it seemed to be like magic that code could make such amazing things. At the time I didn’t even know how to use a semi-colon correctly in English, never mind whilst programming, so I essentially had to learn everything from the very beginning.
I didn’t even know how to use a semi-colon correctly in English, never mind whilst programming, so I essentially had to learn everything from the very beginning.
You’re now a full-time enterprise iOS developer. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since you last shared your story with us.
When I last shared my story I was just starting out on my journey as a programmer. It was my dream to be one day working as an iOS developer, particularly on large-scale enterprise applications and I had no idea how much I would learn on the journey to making that dream become a reality. I have met many incredible and inspirational people along the way to help me reach where I am now (both inside and outside of the tech industry).
I was always the sole developer in my last position which was an interesting challenge. Now I am surrounded by phenomenal developers who constantly share their knowledge openly and don’t mind taking the time to help out when I’m really stuck.
One of the things which I’m so grateful for is that I have several mentors now. Having someone to direct you, give you helpful hints every now and then as well as show you ways of doing things that stretch your thinking has drastically changed the way I approach problems and coding in general. It has really pushed me forward these last few months and seeing their sheer fluency in several technologies has raised the bar for what I expect of myself and provided me with someone to model myself on.
Having someone to direct you, give you helpful hints every now and then as well as show you ways of doing things that stretch your thinking has drastically changed the way I approach problems and coding in general.
What have you found the greatest challenge while learning to code?
The most challenging thing about learning to code is learning on your own for long periods of time. Traditional education gives you small outcomes with planned curriculums which may or may not be relevant to your end goal. Programming contrasts wildly with this! You tend to spend most of your time on the very edge of what you can understand and are trying to use that knowledge – while it is still very fresh – to solve some problem. Furthermore, a lot of this time is spent on your own, without anyone to show you if you’re doing it correctly or not. This can be very incredibly frustrating, especially when you don’t know why your code doesn’t work!
It can be easy to lose direction when you’re working towards being proficient in a certain language or framework and this can lead you into a place where you might get a bit lost on your journey.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
Treehouse gave me something that I couldn’t find anywhere else: a track to follow with encouraging teachers. With the mountain of information out there I would have found it difficult to create anything concrete if I didn’t have some sort of route with a definite goal at the end. It was incredibly practical with less theory and more hands-on development and it met my thirst for knowledge where I could take several tracks in order to learn the skills I needed to be employable.
The teachers are super encouraging and somehow that really comes across in the videos. Positivity has an infinite impact on you and you need every bit of it you can get whilst learning to code.
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What are your favorite aspects of working in the tech industry compared to your past career?
My thirst for knowledge has only ever been satisfied when working in tech. It is the only career I’ve had where every single day I am absolutely set to give my all from morning to night and I rise the next day loving it even more. I simply can’t get enough of it. The people within the community are so inspirational and creating things all day is just the best thing on earth. There is nothing quite like it!
What advice would you share with aspiring iOS developers?
I remember going to the stories page on Treehouse when I was starting out to read of people who had managed to transition into a job as an app developer. It really helped me get excited that it was possible and I want to tell those who are reading my humble story that in all honesty being an iOS developer is the most fulfilling job I have ever had. I absolutely love it. However, when you’re working towards making that dream a reality it is incredibly difficult. It feels like you’re going at it every day and not noticing any difference. I know how you feel!
I want to tell everyone who is interested in working in iOS that you absolutely can do it. No one can stop you. You’re limitless.
If I was to offer any piece of advice though I would say give yourself time, practice writing code and most importantly, build something you’re passionate about. Everyone gets into app development with a desire to make something of their own creation. Tap into that creativity and you’ll go much farther than just following other people’s lead.
Every now and then check your old work and you’ll see progress and always be working on something, no matter how small.
Most importantly I would say go out and actually meet real developers. Learning on your own makes it hard to know if you’re going at a good pace and talking things through with an iOS developer can really give you a lift and a catapult you forward towards your goal. Most developers will totally be able to relate to you even early on and will offer you advice and tips that can help. Also knowing people in the community opens doors for you later on.
My thirst for knowledge has only ever been satisfied when working in tech. It is the only career I’ve had where every single day I am absolutely set to give my all from morning to night and I rise the next day loving it even more. I simply can’t get enough of it.
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