Advantage, Zoë Klapman

The women’s tennis ace turned an internship in Silicon Valley into a full-time job.

Maybe you’ve seen those NCAA commercials which state that only 2% of college athletes go on to play professional sports. Count women’s tennis player Zoë Klapman among the 98%—but that doesn’t mean she won’t be doing what she loves. 

After earning her bachelor’s in computer science this May, Klapman went to work for Climate LLC, the Silicon Valley–based digital agriculture company she interned with last summer. The company’s mission, she says, is to help end world hunger by giving farmers the digital tools they need to increase production.

“That mission statement … motivates everything we do,” says Klapman. “We work together as a team to try to make the world a better place. It’s exciting.”

A San Jose, California, native, Klapman followed in the footsteps of her brother, former men’s tennis player Austin Klapman ’22, when she selected Monmouth. She talked with us prior to the spring season about her family’s love of tennis, her own love of technology, and why she can’t get enough of that famous Jersey attitude.

On teaching Mom the joy of tennis.

I started playing tennis when I was 5. Austin had started the year before, and when I saw how much fun he was having, I wanted to have that as well. Our parents had never played before, but Mom picked it up when we started so she could hit with us. She ended up playing on a team at the club where we trained. When Austin and I played in tournaments, we’d all travel there together, and Mom would hit with us on the court to help warm us up.

On playing for a Monmouth legend, former three-sport standout Patrice Murray ’82, ’89M.

Coach Murray has taught me so much. She’s always positive, which helps after a tough loss. She knows the team is hurting, but knows how to communicate constructive criticism in a way that we’ll learn from the experience and move those efforts toward the next match. She emphasizes the importance of putting your all into everything you do and working to be the best you can be on and off the court. That’s really had an impact on me.

On playing with a tennis legend.

Thanks to Coach, we were able to meet and hit with Kim Clijsters last year. We played some singles and doubles with her, which was unreal because she’s a legend and is in the [International Tennis] Hall of Fame. Afterward, she gave us a really great talk about the mental aspects of tennis, and we learned a lot of great lessons from her.

On why she majored in computer science.

New technologies have always fascinated me. My dad has worked in the tech industry for a long time, and I grew up listening to him talk about the latest industry topics and what the future might look like.

I started coding in middle school and liked it, and I think that if you have an interest in something, you should follow it. In high school, I found that I was good in languages and math too. And I think with that skill set and the passion I had for coding I thought, “I’m just going to see where this takes me.“

At Monmouth, Professor Raman Lakshmanan has always been supportive of my journey. It was his Enterprise Mobile Apps Design and Development class that introduced me to iOS design and made me realize how cool the field is because it’s a mix of back- and front-end engineering. He taught me some great skills that really pushed me forward as a developer.

On the internship that turned into a full-time job. 

Last summer, I completed a 12-week internship as a software engineer with Climate in San Francisco. I was part of their iOS team and worked on an app that farmers use to extract data from their fields. Not coming from an agricultural background, it was interesting to see how much technology affects farming and how much data goes into it.

Climate, which is a subsidiary of Bayer, is committed to modernizing farming by making it more efficient. By helping farmers produce more food, the app I worked on will have an impact across the world. That’s really exciting to me.

On coastal comparisons.

In California, people are all about putting their best foot forward and trying to say things as nicely as possible to others. In New Jersey, people just tell you how it is straight to your face. I like that.

Also, the beaches in New Jersey are so accessible. Where I’m from in California, you have to drive around a mountain range just to get to the beach. Here, the beach is literally down the road. It’s crazy.

This article was adapted from a Hawk Talk podcast and has been edited for length and clarity.