This post is part of a weekly series in which we get to know Sifties.
Jacob Burnim is a Software Engineer who has been with Sift Science for just about five years. If he could be any animal he would be a bear because they’re always eating and get a ton of sleep.
What skill would you love to learn?
I’d like to be more musical. I played the saxophone for a couple years but never got very good at it. I think it’d be fun to play and make music. My brother is a very talented pianist and clarinetist, so at least there’s some talent in the family.
Where were you born?
Though I mostly grew up in Maryland, I was born in Montgomery, Alabama. My parents were there, working on civil rights and providing legal aid for two and a half years. When we moved to the D.C. area I had a strong accent.
So you’ve spent a lot of time on both coasts. What was that like?
I’ve almost spent as many years on the West Coast as I did on the East Coast! It’s hard to compare the two considering that I spent my childhood on the East Coast and then adulthood on the West Coast, since the activities are completely different. I still really enjoy going back to visit my parents where I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. The West Coast, primarily the Bay Area, is where the most exciting developments in tech are happening. Of course, I love the weather on the West Coast and where we are because we aren’t far from nature such as Joshua Tree or Mount Tamalpais.
How did you get interested in engineering?
I’ve been programming since first grade. Some upperclassmen showed me how to write short programs and I would [write] programs to print out curse words repeatedly. As I got older and continued to program, I got to do some fun travel, such as going to Seoul, Korea, and Shanghai, China for a programming contest. The contests were either individual or team, over a 3-5 hour time period. It was actually during that time that I met a lot of people who ended up in Silicon Valley. At Caltech, I continued to compete on a four-person team for two years and then coached the team for two years after that.
What superpower would you want to have and why?
Teleportation. I love traveling and I hate waiting. It’d be amazing to be able to travel, visit family and friends, eliminate my commute, and not have to worry about San Francisco rents anymore.