Our students come from across the country to learn what it takes to be a Java or .NET developer. To kick off our student spotlight series, meet Ben Calisch.

Quick Facts

What brought you to Claim Academy? What lead you to St. Louis?

Ben: After graduating college (Psychology wasn’t for me, it turned out), I started working at my father's software company designed for Chiropractic office management located in Pensacola, Florida. I started at the bottom, doing technical support and training, and spent 4 years learning SQL queries, bug testing, and client (anger) management. I also started learned how to migrate data from competitor's software to our own, and eventually learned to design new features and screens in our program. I found out that I really enjoyed the programming side of things, and spent a lot of my free time learning HTML, CSS, and Javascript from CodeSchool. I learned as much as I could from sites like that and decided to take it to the next level. I had a choice to either go back to school, get into way too much debt, and then get a crappier job than I have now, or I could spend 3 months learning from a programming bootcamp and pretty much get a great job right away. The choice was clear, but which Bootcamp? There are over 100 all over the country, but none in Pensacola. I was searching and searching, discussing with my wife all the different places we could go. I said, “We could go to Atlanta, Austin, New York. You name it, and we can go there.” She thought about it for a while and said, “How about St. Louis?” We had family there, so that made a lot of sense. I looked online, found Claim Academy, and shot them an email. Within five minutes Alex replied, answering my questions and giving me some next steps. Throughout the entire process I felt like Claim really cared and wanted me there. The rest is history!

What was your previous job?

Ben: Development at TGI Software

What got you interested in Java programming?

Ben: I had about 3 friends who were in the programming field, with varying levels of experience. They would help me as I learned more and more about different technologies. Of those three, two of them suggested that I go with Java (versus .NET).

What's the coolest thing you've learned so far at Claim Academy?

Ben: Object-Oriented Programming and its significance to the I.T. world. It's incredible what you can do once you realize its power!

What are you most excited to learn in the coming weeks?

Ben: Test-driven development using JUnit really intrigues me. Making programs to test programs seems like a big piece of what I was missing in my previous job.

What are your programming-related goals?

Ben: It's too early to tell what kind of programming I'll be best at, but I want to spend my days solving problems and making programs that truly innovate how we do things.

What do you do outside of class?

Ben: Honestly, I'm a bit boring. Most of my free time is in the morning, so I wake up with my wife, make breakfast, and spend most of the time with her recharging for the next day. On the weekends, we have a little more fun by going to the Muny or the Zoo or fun things like that, taking advantage of all there is to do in STL.

What's one interesting fact about you that people wouldn't expect to be true at first glance?

Ben: I love to make people laugh, often with the corniest joke on hand... e.g. Two atoms are walking down the street and bump into each other. One says to the other, 'you just stole an electron!' The other says, 'are you sure?' 'I'm positive'.

Anything else you'd like to add about your Claim Academy experience so far?

Ben: Claim Academy has been personal, attentive, and very knowledgable! I love the teaching style and real-world experience of the instructors. Highly recommended to the beginner/intermediate looking for the right tools to get a job programming!