Justin Pfefferle

AGE: 31
INTERESTS: Mostly anything to do with computers, I like building systems. I also like paintball.

Tell us more about where you are from and what shaped you:

I was born in California on March Air Force Base. After that, we lived in Utah for quite a while. Since I was 12 years old, we lived in Eagle, Idaho. I attended Boise State University while I was in high school. I was interested in mathematics, but to do what I wanted to do it would have been a million-dollar education.

Before 42 I was driving city buses and right before 42, I was a full-time Uber driver. I was driving in the Boise area where you could get decent wages doing that. The first time I heard about 42 was through Reddit. I finished the article that was linked and I looked at the Paris school. It seemed like a great opportunity right out of the gate.

Did you have any programming experience before 42?

No. My programming knowledge before 42 was limited to the fact that I had a Myspace page.

What did you like best about your 42 experience?

42 was awesome all the way around, learning at your own pace, not being held back, that is great. It is ridiculous to have to sit there and listen to someone talk about the same thing day to day, instead of moving on and learning something new. 

I volunteered as a 42 ambassador. We went to all types of places, we went to the Google Developer Group conference for North America. We helped with that event, it gave us opportunities to see presentations and meet tons of people from everywhere. So many people were fascinated by 42, anyone would talk to you.

Is there anything that you do now at work that you don’t think would come as easily if you hadn’t attended 42?

Since I work remote, everything that I do comes more easily because of 42.  I handle my own schedule, I have to manage all of my tasks, multiple clients, all of that. That is what it was like at 42, you had your projects and your corrections, you had to handle everything.

How did you get your foot in the door where you work?

I did the Filemaker Internship Program through 42. I went straight to New Millenium Communications, which is now called Codence. It was important for me to work remotely. While I was at 42 my wife and daughter were still here. I didn’t want to take a position where they couldn’t be with me. New Millennium was a remote position and I had remote work experience already. So I think it worked out great for both of us. My one year anniversary with the company was this past month.

Describe what you do at Codence:

Codence does a wide range of applications that are business-oriented custom solutions for companies. As an application developer, it can be a wide variety of tasks that I do. I might be on a project where there is already a team of developers and they need help with tasks. Right now I have a client I am handling completely solo. Sometimes I work with a handful of clients all at once, so it really depends. I am doing performance testing for one of the clients to make sure their solution works when it is released. 

I am one of the keynote speakers at DevCon this year. With the Filemaker community, if you have a topic you are interested in that you think would be good for the Filemaker program you submit a proposal. The proposal is quite in-depth, you write it up and include a video, and they choose who they want to speak that year. I will be speaking about performance testing.

What does your typical workday look like?

That one is tough because I don’t necessarily have a set schedule. I usually start at 7 in the morning and the rest of my schedule depends on if I have meetings. Sometimes I might be meeting with clients, or I might be having an internal meeting. I usually start out with getting everything planned around that. In the morning I do emails and carve out big chunks of time for what I am working on. I can usually wrap up my day between 4 or 5 pm. As a parent, remote work is great. Especially without a set schedule, I can take time off to take my son off to the pediatrician. I just put it on the calendar and make it up later, earlier, or on the weekend.

Would you recommend the 42 program and if so, why?

I recommend it every chance I get. The fact that you can go back to school and not take on that burden of debt that everyone is getting into to get an education is great. And the fact it happened to be in a field I am interested in was perfect for me. I had talked about going back to school for a couple of years but it wasn’t something I could do. Losing wages if I wasn’t working, and the prospect of having to pay for school, we couldn’t do it. 42 is great with its peer-to-peer learning and being able to work at your own pace. It was amazing how much you learn and how fast. 

 I was in 42 Silicon Valley’s first batch of cadets and intially, there was a lot of uncertainty. We didn’t know what it was going to be like, or if the program was going to work out. Especially starting out in the C programming language, it is an amazing thing to do. Other people in tech asked why we started with C so I was concerned at first it would hold me back. But I did a hackathon and we used two computer programming languages we never used before and used machine learning. We were able to do that in a weekend and that is when I realized it really worked.

Do you have any advice for 42 students when it comes to securing an internship or job?

Just keep trying with every opportunity that you get, that is what you have to do. I am guessing students at 42 may have it easier now than the first batch of cadets. When we were trying to get internships no one heard about the school yet, but now there is more awareness of how great the school is. 

Connect with Justin on LinkedIn
Interview by: Stacey Faucett