#004 - Ally Palanzi

With Ada and Edgar

Profile image of Ally Palanzi

Ally is a Lead Engineer at Stitch Fix and part of the leadership team for DCFemTech. She's based in Washington, DC.

Andy: Let’s do the important intro first. What pets have you brought along with you today?

Ally: Hi hello, thanks for having me! I have two pets:

  • Ada is a 3 year old feisty tuxedo cat. My partner and I adopted her from a shelter when she was 9 months old. When we opened her cage, she crawled right into his arms and from that point we knew we wanted to take this cat home. She hates strangers, but loves us! She's incredibly vocal and meows at everything. She loves running water, hair ties, and foil.

  • Edgar is a 8 year old red eared slider. I adopted him and another turtle from a beach shop when they were a couple of months old. Unfortunately, a few of years ago, I had to re-home the other turtle, Ellen, because male and female turtles don't get along and having two 75 gallon fish tanks in a DC apartment isn't feasible 😅. Edgar is your average turtle, not scared of Ada even though she's a bully and has even jumped into the fish tank.

A cat stalks a turtle that is in a water tank
Ada stalking Edgar who is just trying to get on with his day.

Andy: Oh my, this is definitely a milestone. Developurrs’ first turtle 🎉

I’ve never even thought about what’s involved with looking after a turtle, aside from making sure the cat doesn’t bully them too much. Do you mind telling us a bit about what’s involved with the upkeep and stuff?

Ally: Yeah! So, turtles are actually quite easy, and don't require a whole lot. I have a 75 gallon fish tank that I keep about ¾ full. In it, there's a little dock that a heat lamp points at so the turtle can get out of the water and bask, and that's mostly it for set up. I used to have some plants and rocks in the tank, but turtles are not the brightest and he'd try to eat them, so eventually I took everything out. They're not like fish who can be picky about water quality, so upkeep is really simple; I clean the tank filter every two weeks and change the water every month or so.

Feeding them is pretty easy too, for adult turtles, they only need food every 2-3 days. I used to be able to take him out of the tank and walk around on the floor, but he doesn't like that as much now that he's bigger so he mostly stays in the tank all the time.

Andy: That sounds a lot easier than tropical fish. I really want some fish, but my partner isn’t sold on the idea yet. It took me five or so years to talk her into us getting cats, so I’m playing the long game here.

So lets talk about you and what you do on the web. What are you doing now and how did you get started? Also, what do you love about the web?

A black and white cat sits on a book titled “CSS Secrets”, looking up at the camera
Ada already has a grasp of the cascade and is upping her skills with a quality book.

Ally: Hahaha – yep, fish are tricky!! Get a turtle 😃

I'm currently a lead front-end engineer at Stitch Fix, as of a few weeks ago, so I'm still learning what I'll do here. I got started back when I was in middle school, so probably around 11 years old, with Neopets, Xanga, and LiveJournal. Eventually moved on to Myspace where I was paid to design and build layouts for local bands 😂. I went on to later study design and computer science in college. I discovered local tech meetups where I eventually learned that there was actually a career that was kind of the combination of design and computer science – being a front-end developer! So, I started taking every web design class I could (even though not all of them were good) and building websites in my spare time with my friend Una.

I think what I love most about the web is just all of the possibilities! I love that we can just build anything nowadays. There's so much evolution and always so much to learn. While sometimes that can be overwhelming, I think it's really exciting and makes our jobs really fascinating.

Andy: I think I’m going to make a census of folks that started out on MySpace and Neopets because I’m convinced that there’s a whole generation of us who started like that. I also used to do layouts for bands on MySpace too!!

I really enjoyed your hire me page and took a lot of inspiration from it. It’s such a refreshing approach to getting hired. How did it work out for you? Did it make getting the right job any easier?

Ally: Hahah yeah, there definitely is.

Thanks! I had started interviewing a couple of months before making that page, but when I decided to leave my job before I had found something else, I figured I would try to be public about my search to see if that would lead to some new opportunities. I was really fortunate to be able to feel okay leaving a consistent paycheck to take some time to find the right fit and to get out of a rough situation. I'm glad I was able to be public because I learned about a lot of different opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise. In the end, I accepted an offer with Stitch Fix, who I started interviewing with before I made that page, so I'm not sure it ended up making it easier overall. It was definitely a good experiment to know that next time I'm looking that being public is an option, so long as I'm still able to afford to take time off while looking for a job.

A black and white cat kisses Ally on the nose
This is just darn adorable.

Andy: That’s such a pragmatic, admirable approach. It’s important to do a job that makes you happy in this industry, and I know from experience that sticking in a job that isn’t right for you can be quite damaging.

It would be great if as an industry there were protections in place for people who want a new job to be able to broadcast that they’re looking. Right now, moving jobs is a lot of sneaking around and keeping quiet which shouldn’t be the case.

Ally, thank you so much for coming along and talking about your pets and you. It’s been a pleasure.

One last question is how can people find and support you on the web?

Ally: Thanks so much 😃. Always happy to chat about my pets. You can find me on Twitter at @mylifeasalllly!