Graduate Updates is a dialogue style series that we started as an excuse to spend more time chatting with our graduates and to get a peek into their lives after Firehose. In each update, we’ll share the details of these conversations, and give you the opportunity to get to know our students a little better.
In this update, we talk with Aleks– a California native and former almost-doctor who graduated from Firehose in July, and recently started working as a mobile developer.
Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you.
Hey! The name’s Aleks and I’m an entrepreneurial-minded software engineer, tinkerer, and problem solver. I play guitar and piano, I have a biology degree, I enjoy writing, I’m a marketer, and most importantly, I’m a mobile developer. I grew up in Orange County, California (next to LA) and I’ve always had a passion for learning. Back in my college days, I was originally studying pre-medicine, but along the way, I lost my ambition and questioned the vision I had for my life. I did a lot of soul searching and honestly, for a while, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. After four years, I stopped studying pre-med altogether after I watched the famous Tai Lopez Lamborghini YouTube video (no joke). From that point on, I went into overdrive and eventually started my own business selling dog whistles. Eventually, my company failed, so for a hot minute I thought about pursuing law. And then after researching and browsing on Quora for months, I decided to join the Firehose Project.
How did you get into coding?
Ever since I was young, I had always wanted to learn how to code, but I just never got around to it. You could say that the seed for my passion was planted the summer in my early teens when my cousin came back from Stanford with his textbook on Java. I tried learning how to code without coding and only reading the book my cousin lent me, but after about a chapter, I gave up. Fast forward almost 10 years later, I was trying to figure out which career path to take after dropping pre-med. There were a lot of careers I was considering (financial analyst on Wall Street, business school, law), but somewhere along the way, I saw a post on a forum I was reading about coding bootcamps. In hindsight, I think I got very lucky because the forum I was on had nothing to do with coding at all. After seeing that post, I decided to try coding to see if I felt comfortable doing it. I initially started off with Codecademy lessons and I felt very comfortable doing those. I took that as a good sign, so I decided to move forward and get serious with coding. I did my research and eventually found the Firehose Project, and the rest is history.
What are you up to these days?
These days I’m super busy. During the weekdays, I work 8 hours per day, go to the gym, study algorithms for a Coursera Stanford class I’m taking, write for my blog, browse the news on my Twitter, read software engineering books, and find any way to better myself. As for side projects, I have something exciting that I’m planning on building that will be helpful to people, so stay tuned.
What’s it like being a mobile developer after studying web development with Firehose?
To tell you the truth, mobile development and web development really aren’t that different for me. The fundamentals are generally the same, however, most of the tools and languages are different, and those take some time getting used to. But overall, one of the best things that learning web development at the Firehose Project taught me is how to be resourceful. For most of my life, I wasn’t very resourceful and I was always asking people for help without bothering to try to figure things out for myself. I’m grateful I took the software development path because it really changed my life and knowing how to be resourceful overlapped into almost every other area in my life.
What does a typical day for you look like?
I wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy. Okay seriously, my days are standard routine by now and they sound boring on paper, but I enjoy them. I wake up early, finish my morning routine, read a book or learn something new for an hour, go to the gym, work at Starbucks or from home (depends on how I feel for the day), get back and practice coding challenges on LeetCode, and write for my blog. On the weekends, I step it down a notch and I relax, watch Netflix while doing some meal prep, read more books, hang out with friends, and generally try to do something new or exciting that will expand my horizons. Then, I rinse and repeat.
What’s the best part of your job?
Something that I really enjoy about my job is that I get to be hands-on and develop features for our mobile software. Granted, we are a small startup, but it’s still great to have a positive impact and see the fruits of your labor help other people. Another great thing that I really enjoy is learning something new almost every day on the job. I can look back to one month ago and know that I’m a much better developer today than I was then. It makes me excited to see where I’ll be and how I will have developed in one month and even one year into the future.
What are you reading/watching/listening to lately?
Man oh man, what am I not reading? I typically try to read at least one book every week, and one book I just finished reading is The Mythical Man Month, which is a compilation of essays on software engineering. It’s been a great read and it really gave me more respect for the craft. It also teaches you all about general software development truisms that resonate well. As for watching, I just started watching The Ranch with Ashton Kutcher and it’s hilarious, go watch it. And I was recently switched from iOS to Android development, so I just started listening to this great podcast called Fragmented that’s all about Android development, and I’m loving it so far.
Where can people find you?
You can find me on Twitter at @AlekstheRealist where I post daily about software development, philosophy, and cool stuff. Also, you can check out my blog at redpillprogramming.com where you’ll find articles that I wish I had found when I started the job search. I’m also Google famous, so you can find me as the top search result if you search my name “Aleks Real.”
Thanks for your time, Aleks, it was great catching up with you!
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