04 May Interview with Jens Ibsen
Jens is Studylog’s Senior Technical Writer, a talented classical musician, and a valued member of the team.
Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Accra, Ghana, but largely grew up in Daly City, CA. I’ve had stints in many cities around the world: first Vienna as a preteen, then I came back to the Bay Area for high school, after which I attended undergrad at Pepperdine University, and finally grad school in NYC at The New School.
What sparked your interest in Science or computers?
Being the son of a scientist (who of course would go on to co-found Studylog!) and coming from a family with many people in STEM, I always assumed I’d follow in their footsteps. I wanted for a long time to actually go into automotive engineering. My life turned out to pull me in a rather different direction as I ended up getting two degrees in music composition, but my passion for finding out how things tick, why they are the way they are, absolutely still applies to my life both as a musician, as well as in my work with Studylog.
Did you have any specific role models? If so, who were they?
As I am a musician in my other life, I have many idols in that arena. On one end, I admire artists like Björk and Jeff Buckley for their authenticity and their insistence on being uniquely them. On the other end, I greatly respect some of the great Soviet composers like Alfred Schnittke and Dimitri Shostakovich for their technical skill, their wit, and their willingness to stand for what they believed in, in the face of a regime which actively sought to undermine them.
What is important to you personally? I.e.what things do you value most in life?
I value integrity and willpower: to have ideals that you adhere to, the willingness to see these through, and the strength of character to act consistently on them throughout your life. Another thing I value is community: none of us enters this life unaided; none of us succeeds without the past or present help of others. We need each other to make life all that it can be. Finally, I think curiosity is key! Variety is the spice of life and there’s a whole world out there to learn about, all the time.
What are some of the challenges you have faced either in your career or personally that you feel have helped you become the successful person you are?
I am very lucky to currently have two career paths ahead of me in my capacity as a technical writer and trainer at Studylog, and also being an opera singer and composer. I think the challenges I face at Studylog are often things like “What’s the best way to convey this idea?” Or, “How can I solve this customer’s unique problem?” I have to think creatively and I’d like to think my composerly mind comes in handy in such situations! Both involve taking pieces of information and putting them together in novel ways to get the desired outcome.
What is your favorite Studylog feature?
I think for me it’s a toss-up between Study Templates and the Color Settings in the Study Calendar. The former for the sheer convenience, and the latter because who doesn’t love pretty colors?
What do you do for fun?
Currently, I game a good bit (I’m a fan of J-RPGs). I also like to run and hike in my local county park, and I exercise at home as well. I’ve also gotten back into reading for pleasure this year after some time off! And if you count musical activities, I’m nearly always composing something or practicing singing.
What would you say to people who prefer to use Excel because it is free?
To quote a former voice teacher: “You can have cat food, or you can have paté.”