Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

First Owl Award goes to Alex Kahn


Startup Institute alum, Alex Kahn, holds his Owl Award.

When Alex Kahn, son of Valerie and Dr. Bernard (Bernie) Kahn of Maitland, joined Startup Institute Chicago's web development course in fall 2014, he'd already been a technologist at heart and was ready to take this passion to the main stage.

With a degree in economics and prior experience in market research, growth-strategy, and IT for his dad's dental practice, Kahn came to Chicago ready to immerse himself in both tech skills and the tech community. A quick study, it wasn't long after graduating before he was employed as a full-stack developer at Mac & Mia, an online children's clothing service, and then began paying-it-forward to new and prospective Startup Institute students as a mentor and career sounding-board.

Kahn's continued support, generosity, and humility encompasses what it means to be a part of the Startup community, which is why he was presented with the first-ever Owl Award for an alum in Chicago.

"It was so obvious and so easy to choose Alex Kahn as the first alum in Chicago to win the Owl Award. He is brilliant, scrappy, hard-working, and ambitious, but what really stands out is how much he cares about helping others. Alex has faithfully given his all to web dev and design students and he has helped countless prospective students figure out if they are ready to take the leap. He's also fast with the clever and inscrutable commentary when we want our minds blown," said Program Director Lisa Schumacher.

What does Kahn like most about being a software engineer?

"A few things stand out," he said. "That moment when you run your test suite after changing something and it works. Also, I really love it when our users find something to be magical: there's something delightful about spending an hour or two making something that puts a smile on someone's face. And making big features is cool, but what I really love is shaving a few milliseconds off our response times and making the code cleaner."

What advice can he give to prospective web developers?

• Follow the path of greatest excitement.

• If you can speak business and technology, you'll be worth your weight in gold.

• No matter who you are, what you look like, where you live, who you love-you can do this! Code always wins arguments. Done is better than perfect. Done means there are unit tests.


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