Becoming a Freelance iOS Developer: An Interview with Alexander Karan
5 years out of university, Alexander found himself at a crossroads in his career. He was bored by his work in Audio Engineering and ready to change course to pursue a new career. In university, he’d been drawn to the problem-solving and challenge of coding. Longing to be passionate and driven by his work again, Alexander decided it was time to take control of his life and refocus.
Alexander chose iOS development, but with the recent launch of Swift he needed to master a new language and stay on top of the evolving industry. To bring his skills up to speed, Alexander joined Treehouse. Soon he was hooked on Swift and excelled with growing his coding skills. Once he was able to begin seeking out freelance projects, the paid work steadily came his way. Recently, Alexander landed an exciting contract and began collaborating with a team to bring a life-long ambition – to create his first game – to life.
Freelancing has also given Alexander a work-life balance he’s always wanted. He now has the freedom to work from anywhere and the flexibility to spend more time with his family. He also finally has the passion and drive that fuels the work he loves to do each day.
We asked Alexander to share his inspiring experience launching a successful freelance career.
What first encouraged you to learn to code and pursue a career as an iOS Developer?
I first picked up code at University while studying Audio and Technology. Computers and music have always fascinated me, I still remember breaking my Mum’s computer running Windows 98 and desperately trying to fix before she got back home. Whilst at University I was building music sequences in Max/MSP, I migrated them onto an iPad by learning the basics of Objective-C. Five years later I had become bored with Audio Engineering and mainstream work, missing the challenge of coding. I needed that passion for work back, it was time to take control of my life. After checking Treehouse out, I decided it was the best platform to bring my skills up to speed.
What were you doing when you started learning with Treehouse?
I had recently moved to Perth, Australia with my wife and daughter and loved the new environment. When I arrived, I secured a basic admin and customer service job while I got on with enjoying the great food and the most amazing outdoor experiences like snorkelling with my daughter. My wife got the job she had always wanted and I was happy relaxing. After eight months of taking it easy, I felt refreshed and finally ready to get on with my pursuing my career.
You’re now a full-time freelance iOS Developer. Tell us how your career has evolved since learning to code and about the work you’re now doing.
With the release of Swift, I decided that if becoming an iOS Developer was something I wanted to seriously consider, it required making the shift to Swift and staying on top of the latest in iOS development. I don’t regret the decision at all! Swift is amazing. It’s the best language I’ve used by far, so simple, elegant and intuitive. Once I began the Swift lessons I encountered the brilliance of Treehouse teachers, Gabe and Pasan, and immediately jumped on board with everything they taught. I began absorbing everything I learned, building my own apps, and continuing to push myself learning further with it with every moment.
Swift is amazing. It’s the best language I’ve used by far, so simple, elegant and intuitive.
Once I felt confident I began seeking work and taking on small work from freelance sites. I also finished my first app, a simple budget tracker, and released it on the App Store. Since its release I have been eager to return to it to upgrade the interface, but I just don’t have the time! Paid work has taken over.
Eventually, after landing enough projects, I started to fund the production of my own game. I found a great animator and a sound designer who were both looking to prove their skills like me. I am finally bringing my five-year-old selves dream to life, which feels incredible! When I was younger my childhood best friend and I always held onto the idea that if we drew image after image, we could smash them together to make a game, and here I am finally doing it. The development is going well, we have already released a teaser trailer, and we are on track to release the full game by the end of the year.
Through pushing and promoting my online presence, I have managed to land a significant contract with Paul Deuchar. Here I am working on a project that I’m very excited about. It’s hush-hush for now, but I can share that the app is in the HR field and helps unite people and jobs. It’s something I am very excited about and can’t wait to show it to the world.
What has been the greatest challenge learning Swift?
That is an interesting question because the answer is nothing. If you stick with the lessons, you will eventually get there, no matter what challenges present themselves. Actually, the hardest part was staying on track as every time I learnt something cool and new I got carried away with it! At times I found myself getting lost in tangents, but that’s not always a bad thing as you can end up learning something new.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
It’s simple, Treehouse has allowed me to obtain the dream of doing a job I love. I have always loved the idea of being self-employed and being able to work from anywhere. I can close my laptop and be on the beach for example. I also get to spend more time with my daughter, watching her grow up, which is important to me. Treehouse gave me my freedom.
Treehouse has allowed me to obtain the dream of doing a job I love. I have always loved the idea of being self employed as well as being able to work from any location… Treehouse gave me my freedom.
What most excites you about the future of the industry?
Everything! I love development, no idea is a bad one, I am always keeping track of new innovation to see how I can implement them into my apps. But honestly, for me, the most exciting thing is the evolution of the working environment. Creative and coding jobs are becoming more prevalent and the office nine to five monotony is dying. The office location is dying, and I love it.
Creative and coding jobs are becoming more prevalent and the office nine to five monotony is dying. The office location is dying, and I love it.
What advice would you share with aspiring iOS Developers?
Learn Swift, stick with it and implement what you learn in your spare time through your own creations. Have an idea? Try and make it work. You might bang your head on the desk a few times, get stuck and scream your head off, but keep on going! Invest in learning something about UI Design and learn the basic foundations of a few other programming languages just to stay on top of the game. Getting work can be the hardest part though, so push your online presence as hard as you can. Create a Linkedin account, a Twitter profile, and a website. I also created a blog, which ended up producing great feedback. Write about your experiences and ideas; you will get there but it requires persistence and a strong belief.
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