The last page of FiscalNote’s culture deck, which outlines our seven company values, ends with this statement: “We are a company of relentless and exceptional achievers.” It might as well say “weird” achievers: our team members include an intern who can attach magnets to his face, a Business Development Associate who is scared of grapes on the floor, and a Customer Success Manager who occasionally brings a life-sized cutout of President Taft to work.
Software Engineer Anthony DeStefano is no exception: he’s six feet tall; has a flaming red beard; wears rainbow flip flops; and uses a tall, handmade skeleton mug to drink three or four cups of coffee every day. He fits right in at FN, where he’s become one of the more influential engineers on our team.
- Anthony plays guitar and the drums (but mostly drums).
- Anthony used to brew beer – it’s one of his many “abandoned hobbies.”
- Anthony and his wife have been renovating their house. Among the improvements: bamboo floors, except for the bathroom, which has a penny floor.
- They also own two dogs who they call Miniwolf and Megawolf due to their different sizes. Mega (technically Reva) is a Greyhound, and Mini “is like 15 pounds.”
Anthony didn’t know it then, but his road to FiscalNote began as a young child. He was always interested in “computer-related things.” He played video games, built computers, and wrote programs before majoring in Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland. Beyond his natural interest, Anthony’s career choice is also shaped by pragmatism: “the writing’s on the wall.”
Immediately after college Anthony did high-speed computing research before moving to Boxtone, a Maryland-based startup that focused on mobile device management. After Boxtone’s acquisition, Anthony came to FiscalNote, where his main project focuses on the next iteration of our platform’s internal architecture.
Anthony works on the import process, whereby the data from scrapers is saved into a database. Because the FiscalNote platform is active and can’t be taken down, the work of rewriting this software is made more complex – the engineering team has to replace one piece of the architecture at a time, in parallel with the existing architecture. It makes for a slow, complicated transition – and it’s work intensive.
One of Anthony’s related side projects is building out a data validations framework that automatically checks the data for inconsistencies as it is imported into our internal database. Currently, data quality validation happens manually, and Anthony’s framework will significantly improve processes. Another engineer, May, assisted this project by building out a dashboard that receives any issues raised by the validations framework and then sends out email notifications.
This project impressed one of the other engineers, Dev, who started looking to Anthony as a senior member of the engineering team and asking him questions. Yet, despite the data challenges he’s faced and all of the work he’s done, Anthony says that learning to be one of the most senior people on the engineering team (at 29, he’s one of the oldest engineers) has been his biggest learning experience thus far.
“It gets a little bit frustrating when people haven’t learned the hard lessons yet, and so you have to explain why they’re beneficial – like telling Dev to read documentation instead of asking me every question,” Anthony said.
Dev, for his part, says that it saves him time – and that Anthony is “kind of like my big.”