Meet Joshua Martone, a Senior Software Engineer who has been part of the Foursquare family for three and a half years. An avid gardener and former web developer, Joshua is an expert at working across teams and forging his own path within the company.
Can you tell us a little about your current role and responsibilities at Foursquare?
I’m a Senior Software Engineer. I do data engineering, so I’m sort of a “data plumber:” I make sure our daily batch ingestion is running and that we’re supporting the products that our downstream consumers need. My day-to-day is writing code, reviewing code, and answering questions.
What’s the most exciting thing that you’re working on right now?
I’m working on how our Places data works together with our Visits data. I make sure our products are consistent and viable by communicating with our downstream teams that are using our data. It’s exciting to work on improving the dataset and make sure we’re keeping the lights on.
It’s tradition at Foursquare to share a fun fact when you first join. What was your fun fact?
My original fun fact was that I like movies, but I think my new fun fact is that I bought a house in the Catskills with my partner. I was in the city for ten years, and we still have a place in Brooklyn Heights. I still consider myself sort of in the city, even though there are trees outside. We still spend weekends in the city, but it’s good to be able to escape upstate to work. It’s better than the other way around, because no one wants to be driving upstate out of the city on a Friday night. We’ve been renovating the new place for a year, and all the gardening and demolition has been a lot of fun.
What was your very first job?
I was a little nerd, and so I thought, “I can make websites.” So I made websites for people for a long time.
How did you end up at Foursquare?
I was working at an advertising agency where I was the only data scientist, and I wanted to find something where I could learn new things from other smart people. I saw that a friend was working at Foursquare, so I reached out and got a little more information. When I started at Foursquare, I began learning new things right away, which is how I stumbled into software engineering. And now instead of writing SQL queries, I’m writing Scala code, which is an upgrade for me. I really like it.
How has your career grown or changed since you’ve been at Foursquare?
It’s changed quite a bit. I started in the analytics department as a data scientist; I worked embedded in the Visits team pulling charts, creating presentations and explaining issues. Then I realized that I could fix some of the problems I was seeing, since I was so close to the data. So I started to dive in and fix things myself, and eventually transferred over to the software engineering org, which has been a wonderful change. I felt really supported in that process, and it was a beautiful thing to be able to go from analytics to software engineering so easily.
What advice would you give to other employees looking to grow within Foursquare?
Speak up! Try to find solutions for the problems you see, and learn as much as you can. But also, have fun with it! Don’t get too serious. I was a monster at first, and would get bent out of shape about things being done perfectly, but I’ve grown to recognize that it’s better to work with the team to make sure that things are happening in general, rather than stressing about if they’re happening your way.
What do you think sets Foursquare apart as an employer?
I feel heard and respected at Foursquare. I feel like I can have an impact on our products and systems. I’m permitted to do almost whatever I want to make things better – within reason, of course – and I think that’s a wonderful thing. The fact that I was able to move from analytics to software engineering really reflects that. When I saw areas that I could improve and demonstrated that I was able to improve them, I was supported by all of my managers so I could move forward and really flourish. I feel truly supported, which I think sets Foursquare apart from other companies.
Have you had any mentors since you’ve been at Foursquare?
I’ve had lovely managers along the way, who’ve been helpful and supportive. I don’t know that I would say I’ve had one specific mentor, but I’ve found everything that I’ve needed. As a senior software engineer, I’m playing the role of mentor for others now, which can be difficult and I’m learning a lot. It’s been good for me to take this on, to help somebody else come up and learn the things that I’ve learned.
Why is diversity inclusion and equity (DE&I) important to you, and how do you think Foursquare’s culture embodies these values?
I think it’s important to have many different perspectives in the room. We need more representation from various groups because these jobs pay, and you can have a real impact and you can grow your career. We need to give those sorts of opportunities to everybody, and make sure that we have a diverse cast of characters that are making these decisions.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I think the most useful thing anyone has ever said to me is: “Wow, you like to be right a lot,” because that triggered a lot of self-reflection that helped me reevaluate and grow as a result.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love cooking. I’ve really embraced the pandemic kitchen bug. I’ve been cooking and baking everything that I possibly can, which is great because I need to eat, and it’s a fun skill. I’m also doing a lot of work around this house, like gardening. I propagated some roses that I found on the side of the road and I’ve planted hydrangeas and rhododendrons. It’s been a lot of fun.
What’s a local hidden gem that you would recommend?
Atlantic Bagels and Swallow Cafe in Brooklyn Heights are both bangin’, and they’re across the street from each other, which is perfect.
How have you found the community within Foursquare during remote work?
I was quiet in the office and more active on Slack, so it doesn’t feel like a huge change for me. I also did a lot of remote work before we shut down the office, so it’s been okay for me. I’ve seen some work-friends outside of work, too, which has been fun and nice. I’m able to keep up with people pretty easily. We have our Foursqueer, ERG, and that’s maybe even more active now that we’ve shut the office down for a time. So, it’s been good, actually.