We all have dreams: those wonderful, slightly out-of-reach things we’d someday love to achieve. For Trym, our new iOS developer, that dream was becoming a pilot.
As he walks around our Amsterdam office, Trym (pronounced Trüm) carries himself with a humble, gentle presence. He’s cool and collected. Don’t let his silent smile fool you though: this is a man who knows what he needs.
As I talk to Trym about how he became a developer instead of an aviator, I’m struck by his self-awareness. During our conversation, Trym shows that he has put much thought into what he needs from the world around him. It’s also clear that his introspection has payed off.
Instead of blindly pursuing a career as a pilot, Trym allowed himself to follow his curiosity. I suppose it’s this pragmatism that allowed him to let go of his childhood dream. It led Trym down a path he never expected. Yet today, he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Trym, I heard you studied Aviation Engineering. How did you make the switch to iOS development?
When I was younger, I dreamt of becoming a pilot. When I was 17, I visited flying schools all over the Netherlands to find the right one for me. I then stumbled upon Aviation Engineering. Back then, the market for pilots was bad, so I decided to study engineering first and try to become a pilot after that. I had always done well in math and physics, so engineering was a good match.
Pretty soon, learning about aircrafts started to interest me more than the idea of flying itself. That’s when my ambition of becoming a pilot started to wane. At that point, I also I started doing internships that focused on the operational side of businesses.
During one of my internships, I learned how to apply lean management while managing AirBnB apartments. That was at a startup that heavily relied on software, which had always been one of my interests. Eventually, they offered me a job where I’d be able to focus on IT. I liked the idea of becoming a developer, but not at that company.
So you didn't take the job?
No. At that point, I decided to take some time off to figure out what I’d really like to do. My first step was to see whether I could learn to develop. That’s when I started an iOS bootcamp. I was hooked immediately. From there onwards, everything happened really quickly. I first did an internship at KLM’s App Academy. Afterwards, I moved to an internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Everything at PWC was project-based and I soon realized that it wasn’t right for me. I preferred an environment with a stable team of developers, instead of having to move to a different environment just when I’d gotten used to it.
That’s when I called my teacher from the bootcamp, Ben Smith. He advised me to apply for a job at aFrogleap. He said it was rare to find such a fun team where you have freedom, nice projects, and a good learning environment. At KLM, they also advised me to move to an agency. They thought it’d be an environment that would suit me.
Do you think you made the right decision?
Yes. At the companies where I did my internships, people didn’t pay attention to me like they do at aFrogleap. Here, the other iOS developers are constantly checking in with me to see how I’m doing. And when I have questions, they’re not telling me to figure it out myself.
It’s clear what’s expected of me here, and I like that. At PWC, my first day was an introduction, but on day two, I was already dealing with deadlines. Here, I get the time to make things work for me.
How do you feel when you look back at the path you’ve taken, from wanting to become a pilot to learning how to code?
I’m very glad I didn’t decide to become a pilot when I was 17. Now, I no longer think it’d be enough of a challenge. I’d still love to learn how to fly, but perhaps I’l do it in a small plane when I’m retired — just for fun.
My father always used to say that pilots are just flying taxi drivers. I’ve never looked at it that way, but I do now realize that you’ll quickly reach a plateau: once you know how to fly, that’s it. Back then, I never realized there’s so much more I could be doing.
It’s strange to think that I’m now here building apps, because I didn’t have this knowledge after I finished my degree. Being able to change so much in such a short time is an amazing thing. All you have to do is give a try to what you think you’ll enjoy.
I'm very happy things went this way, even if it was a big turnaround. I now look back at my studies as a way to develop myself, of learning how to learn, rather than learning how to assemble airplanes. That’s why I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time. I had a great time, and it was a necessary step to get where I am now.
What’s the thing about coding that energizes you?
What I like about programming is that you get direct results. Before you know it, you’ve pushed an update to the App Store and people are using your code. It’s also nice that you can just think of something, program it, and it’ll work. That’s what makes coding fun.
Do you have any particular ambitions as a developer?
Well, once you know the trick, it's no longer a challenge. That was my issue with becoming a pilot. I don't know when I'll reach that level as a developer, but as long as I find it challenging, I'll keep doing it.
I also like design and business, so maybe I'll be able to combine those things at some point. Either way, I wouldn't want to leave IT and get back into aviation. It's so exciting to see what kind of products are still emerging. We've had our phones for quite a long time now, but maybe AR glasses are the next big thing. I’d like to be a part of that.
Do you have any other dreams?
I love traveling. I just returned from Guatemala. There are a few more countries I’d love to visit, but that will take care of itself. I’d also love to have and maintain my own Cessna that I could use to fly to Norway. Some of my family lives there. That’d be spectacular.
What role does your Norwegian heritage play in your life?
I talk a lot about Norway. Because of my name, people often ask me where I’m from, so that’s when I tell them about Norway. I love Norway’s nature. Every year, I go on hikes to cross certain mountains off my list. That’s something I always look forward to.
I think I’ll move to Norway later in life. Things are so relaxed there. I also like Norway’s culture. Most people think that winters in Oslo are depressing, but it didn’t affect me at all when I lived there.
What’s the biggest difference between your life here and in Norway?
In Oslo, I missed the liveliness of Amsterdam. Norwegians don’t go out often, and when they do, they go in a big, closed group. It’s hard to become part of that. Scandinavians are pretty solitary, but once you get to know them, they’ll be your friends for life.
I travel to Oslo a couple of times a year to visit my family. It’s a nice way of combining the fun of life in the Netherlands and the calm of Norway.
With all those trips up north, it sounds like you could use an airplane of your own…
Yeah, that’d be ideal. Europe really isn’t that big. Even if I’d move to Norway, it wouldn’t feel like I’d be leaving everything behind. You can be anywhere in a flash. It’d be great to visit everyone in that Cessna, even if it might take a few more decades before I can do so.