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Jakob HeuserIf you’re looking at LinkedIn.com or its mobile site, chances are you’re seeing Jakob Heuser’s work. He is the site’s principal web and user interface developer – a job he describes as banging on the keyboard and making things shiny.

He recently contributed his coding skills as part of the team of designers and developers that came up with the new LinkedIn profile interface. “Our goal is for the profile to be the best representation of the individual – who they are, what they’ve accomplished,” he said.

He joined the company back in 2008, one of just 10 people on the web development team. In the years since, he’s witnessed tremendous growth at the company. “We’re up to 83 web developers, last time I checked,” he said.

The rapid growth and constantly changing landscape of the web are two things Jakob finds most rewarding about his work. The part he finds most challenging: making his sites work no matter which browser a user comes to the site with – even the old, clunky ones.

Before LinkedIn, Jakob worked for another Silicon Valley start-up called Gaia Online, which provided a virtual hangout for teens in the era before Facebook. The 2004 Telecommunications, Multimedia & Applied Computing graduate credits his capstone project for launching his career. “Being able to show them code I had actually written was instrumental to landing that first job in the valley,” he said.

The Sacramento-area-native found that CSUMB was a good incubator for a self-motivated student. “At CSUMB, you can make your own opportunity and that mentality really does propel you,” he said.

This attitude was tested in Jakob’s freshman year Tech Tools class. Already very familiar with the basic computing skills the class covered, he claimed to be bored. “(Professor Rosalie Strong) told me, don’t just do the work – help your classmates who are struggling,” he said. After that, Jakob spent the next three years working on campus as a technology tutor.

After working in Silicon Valley for two years, Jakob enrolled in CSUMB’s online Master of Instructional Science & Technology program. He says he didn’t get much sleep while working fulltime and doing his master’s remotely, but the instructors he’d worked with as an undergrad continued to be influential figures. He completed his master’s in 2008.

Jakob said the wide range of skills he gained at CSUMB have been instrumental to his success. “I had experience with instructional design, Photoshop, Flash, how to make presentations, and fundamental research skills,” Jakob said. “CSUMB gave me aspects of the education you might get from a business school or art academy, all rolled into one, and that has really helped me here.”

– Liz MacDonald