Grand Valley State alumnus Alex Restrepo revisited campus last year to share his experiences working for Facebook and Instagram with students attending the AISO Conference.

Grand Valley State alumnus Alex Restrepo revisited campus last year to share his experiences working for Facebook and Instagram with students attending the AISO Conference.


 Since graduating in April of 2012, Alex Restrepo (MS in CIS) has managed to work on a number of high profile projects in Silicon Valley. The summer after graduating he worked as an iOS developer at a startup company named Easily Do.  The following fall however, he was recruited by Facebook, and upon graduating from Facebook’s six week bootcamp, he had the good fortune of joining the Instagram team on Facebook’s Menlo Park campus as an iOS developer.  At that point in time the Instagram iOS dev team consisted of just 2 engineers!  During the two years Alex worked on the Instagram app, he contributed to a number of major releases from Instagram’s video feature, to their “creative tools“.  Today, the Instagram team is much larger as Instagram grew to over 300 million users.

Always eager for opportunities to learn more and embark on new adventures, Alex recently joined the Oculus VR team.  At Oculus he works on the first party apps team for Samsung’s GearVR product which is based on Oculus technology.  He feels fortunate to have the opportunity to work in the past and present with some of the brightest software engineers on the planet.

Alex says that is is hard describe the feeling of accomplishment you get when you work on a product used by hundreds of millions of people all over the world.  In a quote from a recent email Alex sent us, he shared the following with us: “Seeing the product you work on out there in the wild, while you wait for coffee or while you wait for the subway and knowing that you were part of the people who made that possible, it’s quite a powerful emotion.”

At GVSU’s School of CIS, Alex remembers being taught to challenge himself as an engineer in everything he did, whether it was squeezing more performance out of a particular system or learning how to properly do research.  He indicates that his time as a graduate assistant in the GVSU CIS’s Mobile Applications and Services Lab was a “door opener” in that it gave him the opportunity to work with emerging technologies on mobile devices and helped him better develop his skills and gain the experience needed to land a position on a world class mobile development team.

Alex advices current GVSU CIS students to go the extra mile to really become good at what they do.  He indicates it is not enough to simply do the homework and projects the professors require of you.  Students need to get involved in faculty led research projects like those in MASL and the DEN.  They need to actively make meaningful contributions to open source projects and be able to demonstrate what they can do once they land the interview.  Alex suggests that these types of extra-curricular activities will really give a CS student an advantage when they start applying for jobs, not to mention the fact that these are really fun ways to learn more about the discipline!

Above photo courtesy of the GVSU Lanthorn