Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.
Software Engineer at Google“I feel like I got a really good grasp of the basics at Adelphi. And that’s what really matters in my field.”
As a child, Joseph DiLallo ’08 loved the video game ZZT. “I’ve always been interested in computers and technology. ZZT allowed its users to program their own games,” he said. “It was very simple programming language, but it really was programming.” Fast forward to his college years, and it’s no surprise that DiLallo declared computer science as his major at Adelphi.
“I had never done programming in an academic setting before,” said DiLallo of the computer science classes he took at the University. “They definitely helped spur my passion for it.” He credits Adelphi with laying the foundation on which he has built his career. “I feel like I got a really good grasp of the basics at Adelphi. And that’s what really matters in my field,” he said.
His first job after graduating was for the Critical National Infrastructure at National Grid. “We were the group that managed the computer system that runs and monitors the power grid,” he explained. He worked at the international electricity and gas company for more than two years before joining Google as a developer programs engineer (DPE) in 2010.
In this role he worked with Google’s ad products, writing code that Google’s advertising customers had their engineers download and run. “It’s a popular movement in this field to release the source code itself so people can learn from it and add to it themselves if they want,” he said. “I wrote open source code that our customers used.”
He credits his Adelphi experience with helping him land the job as developer programs engineer. “At Adelphi I strengthened my writing skills through the work I did in the Honors College and as a tutor at the Writing Center. As a DPE, I wrote blog posts explaining features Google released, communicated directly with customers, wrote articles. It was definitely important that I be able to write.”
Today he is a software engineer, working on a team that runs one of Google’s websites, developers.google.com. “This is where we host documentation for our APIs, which are the interfaces our customers use to talk to Google services through code.” Almost all of Google’s products have an API and those docs live on the website he runs.
In 2014, Google was ranked number one on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For (and it has been on the list for eight years). “Everything you hear about Google is true,” said DiLallo. Google’s New York office offers employees everything from nap pods to game rooms to free meals and snacks. While the company has all the amenities an employee could dream of, DiLallo said his favorite part of working at Google is the collaborative atmosphere.
When writing code—and DiLallo has written hundreds of thousands of lines of it—he explained that every couple of hundreds of lines you write, you share it with your fellow engineers. “They read it line by line, critique it, and give you notes. That helps us do things in the best way possible,” he said. “You’ll write a piece of code you’ve written a thousand times before and then one day someone will comment, ‘oh there’s actually a better way to do this now’ and you learn how and can go read more about it. I’ve learned so much from my coworkers.”
A career at Google is a dream for many computer scientists. DiLallo agrees. “Working at Google is usually the end goal,” he said. “After graduating from Adelphi I just enjoyed programming and knew I wanted to do it professionally. I ended up at Google more quickly than I ever thought I would.”
He is excited to be in a dynamic field that is always evolving. “I’m always learning new things,” he said.
While he is certainly at home in the tech world, he also has a strong passion for a very different field. “If in another life I ended up as a zoologist, I wouldn’t be disappointed,” said DiLallo, who initially studied biology at Adelphi before doing research, realizing lab work was not for him, and switching to computer science.
He did continue to pursue his interest in zoology as a hobby, at Adelphi and beyond. As a student, he was a member of Adelphi’s Environmental Action Coalition (EAC), of which his wife, Laura (Napoli) DiLallo ’08, was vice president. The EAC worked closely with the local non-profit, the Garden City Bird Sanctuary (GCBS).
As students, he and Mrs. DiLallo volunteered to be the representatives from EAC at the GCBS, and started attending their Board of Directors meetings as student directors. As undergraduates, the DiLallos coordinated a lot of community service events for the EAC at the GCBS. After graduating from Adelphi, they were voted as directors of the board, and got more involved in the overseeing and planning of events. The DiLallos continued to volunteer at the GCBS as directors through 2013.