Great response to the changes we made with our last interview. If you have any suggestions for ways we can improve this segment, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Continuing with the new format, we have Lars Schwegmann!
Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m 18 years old and currently live in Oberhausen, Germany. I started programming with Visual Basic when I was 13 years old. I then moved to Java and Objective-C, which got me into iOS development. At the moment I’m learning to program in Swift which is a really cool language, but requires a little time to get used to.
What first got you into programming?
I was always a pretty curious person. When I got my own computer and access to the Internet, I tried to learn how computers work. I found out that everybody can create programs and hence tell the machine what to do.When I was 12, I first tried creating small games with a software called “GameMaker”. I mostly followed tutorials on the web and when I came across something I didn’t know, I just used Google or asked my dad who has a degree in Computer Science. My dad was the one who got me interested in iOS Development since he got enrolled in the iOS Development Program when it first came out in 2008 with the introduction of the App Store.
As a WWDC 2013 and 2014 scholarship recipient, could you tell us how you found out about the scholarship, what your application process was like, and how you enjoyed the experience of getting to go?
I first found out about the scholarship in 2012. I was already into iOS development and knew about WWDC before, but when I heard about scholarships for students I knew I was going to apply for one. Sadly, I didn’t get one in 2012. Back then, you had to write a letter, just like a real job application. Since I did not have many references of projects to brag about, it was pretty hard to convey my skills.But I decided to reapply in 2013, because they introduced a new application process: Since 2013, you have two weeks to create an app that showcases your skills. I worked really hard for my app and in the end I got the scholarship.The WWDC week was pretty awesome. I got to talk to Apple engineers and met many other students.In 2014, they made the week even better for students as they added a special event only for students and a special area at the WWDC Bash (an event only for WWDC attendees at which “Bastille” played last year), where we got to meet Apple executives like Jony Ive.
As a self-defined “code ninja,” what types of projects have you worked on in the past?
The first thing I built for the iPhone was a remake of the first video game ever, “Pong”, originally made by Atari in 1972. Sadly it got pulled from the App Store after Atari published their “Atari’s Greatest Hits” app, which was a collection of all Arcade titles they ever made. I’ve made a few other Apps, such as a very simple clock (I made one because my clock on my desk broke) named “Klock” and a chat app for Google Talk (now Hangouts) which didn’t have an app at the time, named “pureChat for Google Talk”. It’s pretty outdated and was actually made for iOS 4. When I look at the design and the functionality now, there is sooo much room for improvement. But I haven’t gotten around to update it yet.I’ve also done Web development before. Last year I created a betting website for me and my friends for the FIFA world cup where we could bet on who’d win the games.At the moment, I’m creating a game where you have to solve simple math equations. Although I don’t have many published successful apps, I create many things for myself, such as an automated garage door which I can control from my phone.
What is one of the hardest challenges you’ve had to face while developing? How did you overcome this problem?
When I was developing my app for the WWDC scholarship application of 2014, I was running pretty late. It was 3am on the day of submission and I had school on that day so I had to submit on that morning before school. I put my Pong remake in my app, as a gimmick for the review team and named it “Pong Neue” because Helvetica Neue Ultra Light was used all over last years WWDC.When I was doing one last test run, I noticed a bug in the game which caused the ball to go offscreen or keep sticking to the screen edges. I managed to fix the bug and submit, but I was really really tired after that ;D
Where do you see yourself a year from now? Five years? Ten years?
I plan to go to a University and study Computer Science. After I get my Masters degree, I’d like to work somewhere where I create things that help people and make their lives easier. But I really have no idea what’s going to happen in 10 years!
If you were to give advice to younger developers just getting started, what would you say?
Programming is awesome because you can create whatever comes to your mind. Programming seems hard at first, but once you get used to it, it’s pretty fun. There are many great websites that teach the basics of programming in a very playful way. And don’t expect to be a master of programming in two weeks. It’s just like playing the guitar: You wont be able to play like Slash or Angus Young after two weeks. Just keep going and when you’re stuck, ask on websites like Stack Overflow. Most people on there are really nice and try to help you out.
Anything else you’d like to add?
You can follow me on twitter if you like (@larsschwegmann). Also a big shoutout to everyone who is going to WWDC this year! Have a great time! I couldn’t apply because of my final school exams, but I hope to be there again next year.