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Alexander’s Story: Becoming an iOS Developer at 15

From playing with his first iPod touch at a young age, Alexander was fascinated by iOS and aspired to create his own apps. Over the upcoming years, Alexander’s appreciation for technology grew and he realized the best way to see his apps brought to life was to build them himself. He began using articles and videos online to learn how to develop apps.

By 14 years old, Alexander had built his first app and was hooked on coding. By 15, he was winning awards for his iOS apps and made the decision that his future career would be in the mobile industry. Still a full-time student, Alexander needed a reliable learning resource to advance his coding skills in his free time. That’s when he discovered Treehouse.

Since then, Alexander has continued to be recognized for his apps, worked on countless projects, founded two startups, worked at tech internships during the school holidays, and he’s only just getting started!

We asked Alexander to share his inspiring story and plans for the future with the Treehouse community.  

Luckily I’ve already found my passion so the hardest part is done for me.

What first drew you to the mobile industry?

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a passion for technology. When I was five years old, I encrypted my mother’s computer with NSA Standards (afterward I couldn’t remember the admin password… I don’t recommend doing that). While that probably didn’t have a major influence on my career today, it sparked my curiosity. A few years later, when I was 10 I got my first Apple device for Christmas, an iPod touch. I was addicted to playing games on it, but eventually became bored of them and wanted to create my own. I think that was the first time I realized I ultimately wanted to build an iOS App and work in the mobile industry.

What encouraged you to learn with Treehouse?

While I tried to figure out how to code an iOS app, I read articles and watched videos online. After a few months, my first app was ready. That was also the first time I explored the iOS SDK and Library. From there, I got really into iOS and programming. The Apple Store was probably my second home.

In my area, there are two rival schools: Suitbertus Gymnasium (which I attend) and TFG. Soon after I’d began building apps, TFG released an iOS app. So I decided to create an app for my school with the help of a teacher who published our school website.

From there, I wanted to do more. I considered getting into web development or diving deeper into iOS, so I wrote a letter to Professor Giesl (he teaches at the RWTH Aachen, one of the best technical universities in Germany and one of the top 40 in the world). I asked him to recommend learning resources, but instead he offered me a place to study at RWTH as a scholar student. I was really excited as I was only 14 years old at the time, but unfortunately restrictions at my school meant I wasn’t able to pursue the opportunity.

As an alternative, I needed to search for somewhere I could learn remotely. That was the first time I explored Treehouse and it was awesome.

You’ve accomplished a great deal since learning how to design and build apps. Tell us a little about these accomplishments, how your skills have evolved, and the work you’re doing now.

Thanks for the compliment but I’m just starting out!

So my first accomplishment was the holy grail of iOS development — I won a WWDC Scholarship last year when I was just 15! For those who don’t know, Apple invites 350 of the most talented students to the WWDC each year. That year, Apple asked students to make an app about themselves describing and showing their technical skills, what they did before and what they plan to do. Apple required that the app is mainly or solely written in Swift. I also met Tim Craig at WWDC, was invited to a Facebook conference, and won a position at the WHU Conference. That week was one of the best of my life! I’ve also received an award from the FBStart program and got over $80,000 in useful development tools.

Besides awards I worked on a lot of projects last year, founded two startups and worked with Sevenval during the school holidays. During that time, I learned a lot advanced Swift with Treehouse and through nearly the whole iOS Track and business courses.

Besides iOS, I do a lot of web stuff. I’ve published a few websites and worked on big web projects, but I think my masterpiece is my portfolio build with Node:

There is no master plan for how to get into programming. My advice is just to play around with technology.

What are your plans for the future, and what’s up next on your learning path?

At the moment, I’m searching for an internship for summer 2016 so I can use my school holidays to work. My father recently told me that I should try everything I’m interested in first and that every internship will teach me something new. I’m really interested in computer sciences, especially the web, mobile and artificial intelligence. So as well as my current projects that are focused on the web and mobile, my next learning path will be to learn more about artificial intelligence, Python, and design. I want to learn about everything I think is interesting!

Once I graduate, I plan to study computer science at RWTH Aachen or TH Munich. Even better would be the MIT, Stanford, and Caltech. After that, I hope to start my own business or work somewhere cool like NASA, SpaceX, Tesla, Facebook or Apple!

Luckily I’ve already found my passion so the hardest part is done for me.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students who are aspiring developers?

First you have to ask you: Is coding your real passion?

Then: Play. Explore. Copy. Create.

There is no master plan for how to get into programming. My advice is just to play around with technology.

To read more awesome student success stories, check out the Treehouse Stories Page.

Ready to build your own apps? Sign up for a Free Trial with Treehouse and start learning iOS and Android development today.

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