Alexander’s story is at first glance a typical journey into the world of software development; but in some ways it’s also a plight for balancing “normal” people things — like following your career dreams — and quiet specific Armenian things like, self-determination despite a threat to survival and how to be of service to your homeland…..having lost your homeland, your Artsakh.
Alexander Israelyan was one of TUMO Stepanakert’s first students. He recalls how programming and web development were one of the first classes to become available in Artsakh’s TUMO center and how he quickly knew that he was on the right path with these fields.
His passion followed him on his educational path as he got accepted to the Computer Science undergraduate program at the American University of Armenia, which instigated his move from Stepanakert to Yerevan. Just as he started his studies at AUA, Alexander also started studying at 42 Yerevan — no easy feat with a full time undergrad schedule.
“The two curriculums actually complete each other,” Alexander reflects. “I noticed that when I started working on projects at 42 that I needed math for, I would look back on what I studied at AUA, and when the time wouldn’t be enough to practice what we’re learning at AUA — which is more theory focused — I would continue working on all of it at 42 to really master it all.”
Alexander is now in his senior year at university and is really seeing the advantages of his boosted experience — he has been one of the top students both in his year at AUA and his cohort at 42. After two years at the coding school, he is now part of 42’s main curriculum.
It makes sense that Alexander’s path crossed with the medical tech company, Align Technology, because 42 Yerevan was one of Align’s first stops in Armenia. The company began to organize a number of training sessions for those studying at the coding school, which gave Alexander new skills and know-how, like conflict resolution, and made him think on the need to start gaining work experience.
He was also motivated to be proactive about the opportunities presented to him, because back home in Artsakh, simply living had become quite difficult due to the blockade by Azerbaijan and the constant threat of attack. The opportunity he didn’t pass up was a paid internship as a C++ engineer at Align, which has allowed him to start securing his own housing and finances.
Alexander is excited to be using everything he’s learned in his work. He hopes to level up to senior software developer as well as do a master’s program, when finances allow. Eventually, he hopes his growing experience at Align will allow him to pursue his passion of game development down the line. “Games can change a person just as much as books and movies can” believes Alexander, “and I would love to work on games.”
Alexander’s story is at first glance a typical journey into the world of software development; but in some ways it’s also a plight for balancing “normal” people things — like following your career dreams — and quiet specific Armenian things like, self-determination despite a threat to survival and how to be of service to your homeland.
Especially after losing Artsakh and with an even greater sense of urgency, Alexander is most passionate about working to build a stronger nation. “I think that now is the time that all of us need to try to help our motherland. The IT sector is a good opportunity for Armenia to do that because, for example, big companies are coming to Yerevan, creating more jobs, and thereby improving the state of our economy. I’m not a journalist or a politician; I think the only way I can help is to work, make money, and donate.”
Alexander sees no more an organic place to donate than to the institutions that help incubate the bright minds who will continue to contribute to the IT sector and therefore to the economy — TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and the American University of Armenia. He hopes to see his name on a donor plaque inside the walls of one of these institutions one day.