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Fullstack Feature: Jeff Klaus

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What were you doing before you attended Fullstack Academy? Were you working or attending school? Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and went to Penn State University where I got my undergraduate degree in Bioengineering. Then I was working as a research and development engineer for a Biomedical device company. I was there for about a year and a half. One of my close friends at the time was going to a coding bootcamp on the west coast, and he really got me interested in the concept. I went online and saw that Fullstack was considered one of the best. I applied, quit my job and then moved to the city. Maybe not the most prudent decision at the time, but I think it worked out well.

What in your life influenced you to start coding?

So I was always interested in math and science, in high school I knew that I wanted to be an engineer. When I got to my senior design classes for bio-medical devices, I really enjoyed building things and that’s what kept me in the Biomedical device industry. The process to build things and get feedback always took forever though. Whereas what really drew me to coding was getting to build things creatively and quickly get feedback.

So what other creative things do you do in your spare time? Would you suggest to other students that they keep an outlet to do creative things or keep up with their hobbies?

I like fixing things around my apartment, playing sports. I love video games too. If you are coming to Fullstack, it’s a full time commitment. It’s the same as any job, you find some time to do other things, It’s a little intense. Whenever I left for the day, I didn’t go home home and code, I made sure I did other things- like play basketball, or go to the gym. I would suggest to make sure that as a Fullstack student you keep a good work/ life balance.

What was your favorite part of the program here?

As a student my favorite thing was the group project. The first six weeks were very intense. After the first six weeks, you start group projects and that’s when you get to see the fruits of your labor. I definitely think that I enjoyed the group project the most because you got to work closely with the lead instructors here; one-on-one interaction with code reviews. So whenever I go on a job interview and they ask me if I know agile development techniques and lean methods, it’s awesome because I can say I learned all of that stuff in the group project phase.

What was the biggest challenge you feel like you faced at Fullstack, and how did you overcome it?

I think the challenge of imposter syndrome, feeling inferior. Fullstack attracts such great talent, people who come from an engineering background to liberal arts, to finance, and everyone that comes here is so bright that when you’re talking to students and they start talking about things you have never heard of, it’s a little intimidating. Everyone has their own unique backgrounds, but I think that really embracing that– you will learn just as much about non-coding, as you will about coding when you’re here just because of the eclectic group of people we have. Once I learned to embrace that, it made the experience pretty great.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What is the ideal setting in which you would you like to be using your Fullstack education?

I’m more worried about five months than 5 years. Five years is a long time in the tech industry, and I think that where I want to be in five years is just continuing to learn. I think that’s what Fullstack teaches you more than anything - To learn new technologies, and how to adapt to changing market trends. In the next six months I definitely want to be in a team that is focused, energetic, and strong technically. I want to be around people who know more than me, and I want to be able to learn from them.

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