Alaska Developers Alliance Builds Community for Programmers to Learn

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) Jeff Levin grew up surrounded by technology.

Members of the Alaska Developers Alliance met July 11th to discuss game development.

“I was going to a school called Highland Tech High, which was a school that really wanted to emphasize using computers to do all of your normal high school work,” Levin says.

So when Levin began to attend the University of Alaska, he continued to surround himself with tech.

“I sort of just tackled my general education requirements, but I would sprinkle in a computer science class here and a computer science class there, Levin says.

While he didn’t realize it at the time, Levin had a knack for programming.

“I would go to work on an assignment, and I would blink and it felt like four hours went by.”

By the time he graduated, Levin had a degree in Computer Science. After graduating, Levin moved to Bend, Ore. but moved back to Alaska after a year. As he began taking contracts for his new consulting business, he noticed a strange phenomenon in Alaska’s programming market.

“Programmers who stay here are looking at the market saying ‘oh there’s no programming jobs,’ and the people who are trying to hire programmers are looking at the market and saying ‘oh there’s no programmers.’”

Levin says this is because programmers in Alaska were to spread out and unorganized. That’s where the Alaska Developers Alliance, founded by Levin comes in.

“The first thing we’re doing is really focusing on programmers,” Levin says, “we are trying to give them a community that’s sort of for programmers, by programmers.”

Another issue programmers face, not just in Alaska, but around the country, is a lack of experience.

“You can have gone through a computer science program…but it can still be really hard to get your first programming job because companies need to hire people who already have a certain level of experience, but how do you get that experience unless you’ve had a job?” Levin says.

It’s largely because of this that the saying exists in the programming community “the hardest job to get in programming is your first.”

This is another issue that the ADA seeks to tackle.

“That’s one of the gaps that we’re trying to help fill with mentorships and community development projects to help bring those people along and help bridge that gap,” Levin says.
On July 11th, the ADA held the state’s first game developers conference, and there are already several more events on the horizon. Levin is excited.

“I think the future is really bright,” Levin says. “People are going to learn from each other and interact, and ideally they go off and form companies together, and then those companies build up to help the economy and do great things.”

To learn more about the ADA, you can visit their website at AKdevalliance.com

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