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New Crew Member: Elayne Juten

Published February 7, 2019

Ten Forward's latest apprentice, Elayne Juten, is being sponsored by a long-time client and friend of Ten Forward, the Chicago-based apartment property technology developer Mobile Doorman. (Psst ... they're hiring!) 

Elayne comes to programming by way of a master's in music in opera performance. She's already proven to be a staunch #CatGearFriday participant (so many cat shirts!), and we love how she takes initiative and speaks her mind.

Read on to learn more about this self-proclaimed Hufflepuff, including her ideal Sunday afternoon and why her favorite hobby terrifies her. 

What brought you to Ten Forward?

“Being in (Madison) Women in Tech definitely introduced me to Ten Forward, and then I wanted to do an internship and had reached out to you, asking about that, but the timing didn’t work out.

I wasn’t thrilled with [the job I ended up taking], though, so I started looking elsewhere. I wanted to work at a smaller company, and diversity is always important to me.”


What are you looking forward to learning or doing in your apprenticeship?

“I’m really looking forward to making a lot of mistakes!” she said with a laugh. “And making mistakes isn’t something that’s easy for me to admit … because I want to be independent, and looked at as competent. And so I feel more comfortable as an apprentice right now making those mistakes. It’s getting me used to being like, ‘I don’t know this at all,’ and asking for help, and then learning from those missteps.”

Your apprenticeship is sponsored by Mobile Doorman, a longtime Ten Forward client, and so you’re focusing on that project. Have you worked for a startup before? 

“Technically, my previous job was a startup - a marketing consultancy - but it wasn’t as technical of a role. I like [working at startups] because even as an apprentice, I can say, ‘Hey, this process could be improved,’ because everything is kind of in flux. It makes me feel more confident as an employee. I think that’s a compliment to Brian* and Katrina*, where I feel comfortable saying, ‘Hey, this could be done in a different way.’ 

I also like the collaborative nature of a new company and startup.”

*Brian Samson is the CTO for Mobile Doorman and president of Ten Forward; Katrina Tofflemire is the VP of operations for Mobile Doorman and vice-president of Ten Forward

In your spare time, you do improv and sing opera. How did you get into both, and have you ever thought of doing an improvised opera?

“I was a big musical theater fan. Actually still am - I’m kind of obsessed - and I got into improv because Comedy Sportz in Milwaukee had a high school league, and a lot of theater kids did it. I started there and really enjoyed taking classes on the weekends. 

“It’s everything I’m terrified of,” she added with a laugh, “like not knowing what I’m doing or what’s coming next. But I love working and collaborating in groups.

“Opera was more just an outgrowth from musical theater. I did it professionally for three years, then realized I hated doing it professionally! It was the pressure of something I loved, but having to do it in order to buy food and pay rent. I switched to programming because the challenges are similar to the challenges of music.”

What two people - fictional or real - would you pick to describe yourself, and why? 

Elayne: “Leslie Knope.”

Me: “She’s one of mine!”

Elayne: “I mean, no explanation needed. I get excited about something, and I go HARD. My brother calls them ‘jutenthusiasms’” from her last name, Juten. “Also she loves waffles almost as much as I love waffles. We’re the same person.

“I think my second would probably be Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter). I’m definitely a teacher's pet, and I feel like she has a similar thing where outside figures were influencing what she wanted to do ... I’m like Hermione in her transition.”

Me: “Also, you both have curly hair that you have complained about trying to deal with.”

Elayne: “Yes, definitely.”


Fill in the blanks: "If I could only __ one __ for the rest of my life, it would be __."

“If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be ice cream.”

What is your perfect Sunday afternoon?

“Board gaming with friends with cats on my lap.”

Favorite board game or video game, TV show or movie, band or musician, emoji.

Favorite video game: “Planet Coaster”

Favorite TV show: “Parks & Rec”

Favorite musical: “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

Favorite emoji: 🧓🏻


Star Trek or Star Wars?

Elayne: “Can I say neither?” (Cringes.) “Harry Potter?”


Elayne: “I … OK.”  (Takes a deep breath.) “I’ll go with Star Wars, just because I haven't seen Star Trek, but I was forced to watch Star Wars as a kid.”

Author details

Hilary Stohs-Krause

Co-Owner and Senior Software Developer