The Nuts and Bolts with Robyn Trovati

Robyn Trovati, Software Engineer, Business Applications

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How did you get into engineering?

My path was winding. I've always had a lot of disparate interests, so a traditional career trajectory never appealed to me. Through school and work I chased what I found exciting, which happened to be physics, fashion and ultimately programming. It was through my last job at a digital creative agency that I was introduced to a team of developers and was inspired to start learning a little Ruby. Like many others who took a nontraditional route to engineering, it was a love at first line of code kind of thing.

What keeps you at Squarespace and what keeps you excited?

I’m proud of the product and the brand. Aesthetics play a big part in that for me. The importance of good visual design is woven into every aspect of the company down to the door handles, but the fact that we value the quality of what’s underneath just as highly is what keeps me here.

What's the thing you like the most about what you do?

The versatility and constant learning. On any given day I could be writing frontend code, building an API, designing an interface or product managing. I like wearing a lot of hats, and I’ve been able to craft a position here in which I can stay multifaceted and challenged.

What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger engineering self?

Knowing every intricacy of a technology is not a requirement for having confidence in your ability to use it.

What’s your team like?

Business Applications is a full stack team that makes bespoke software for Squarespace. We move fast, building prototypes and products for groups all across the org. Everyone on the team is very different, comically so at times, but the important commonality is our commitment to supporting and learning from each other.

Favorite part of Squarespace’s stack?

I’m biased, but I like our frontend stack. Because the bulk of my team’s work is internally facing, we have the freedom to be a bit more experimental and play with the newest Javascript and CSS goodness. I also really admire the product teams’ ability to use a lot of the same cutting edge frontend technology, but scaled up to serve millions of people.

What’s something you like to do at Squarespace that isn’t part of your job?

I run a creative hackshop called Labspace where people meet to work on technology-related projects. We have members from teams across the company including Machine Learning, Design, Customer Operations and SRE coming together to knowledge share on everything from generative art to hardware. Most recently we held a workshop where everyone built a personal headphone amp.

How do you think technology has impacted and will continue to impact fashion?

Web technology and social media have all but killed high fashion. The next decade will consist primarily of fast fashion giants, celebrity athleisure lines and clothing subscription apps. Once the 3D printer becomes a common household appliance, we’ll be printing our own clothes. I’m actually quite looking forward to that, but for now, get used to Yeezys and startup-chic costumes that an algorithm chose for you.

Do you have any role models?

No, but I have people whose bodies of work I'm infatuated with: Ash Thorp, Eiko Ishioka and Philip Glass, to name a few. They craft an otherworldliness that feels like home to me, and one look or listen is enough to catalyze a bout of creative productivity.

How do you measure success?

By how much I learned.

What’s one of your best Squarespace memories?

Sneaking onto the unfinished side of the office roof wearing a headlamp with my coworker to spray paint the Squarespace logo on the payload enclosure of a high-altitude balloon so we could send a GoPro into space for Hack Week.

What’s your superpower?


Favorite Squarespace color: white, black, or gray?

Klein blue. A veteran designer worked it into the first big internal tool I built for Squarespace, and no one's complained yet.

Current jam?

"I Ain't Got Time!" by Tyler the Creator.

What are your non-tech passions?

Visual art, gardening, various hedonism, the cat.

If you could erase one technology stereotype from existence what would it be?

That engineers aren’t creative.

Spirit Animal?

Larry David.

Favorite Movie?

Stoker is a perfect movie. Hanna is up there. The Cell. There are more, I can’t choose.

Utopia or Dystopia?

Dystopia for the UI. Utopia for the universal happiness and wellbeing.

What’s one book you recommend and why?

The three books of The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) by Jeff Vandermeer. They’re the most beautiful sci fi ever written, especially if you like sentient fungi.

What real person, dead or alive, do you wish you could be more like? Why?

The famous physicist Richard Feynman. He was a particularly special brand of genius, and I'd like to know what having that brain feels like.

What’s a strange occurrence you’ve observed but, until now, have never (or rarely) shared with anyone?

I saw a pterodactyl in the woods when I was six.

Check out a video that shows what it's like to be a software engineer at Squarespace as well as our engineering openings.

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