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Software Engineering + Data Science = Love!

Hack Reactor

Software Engineer, or Data Scientist?

By Sarah Kuta for Hack Reactor

When it comes to raising their young son, Navira Abbasi is primarily concerned with boosting his emotional intelligence. Her husband, Fayad, on the other hand, is all about teaching him foundational math skills.

It may seem like a nuanced distinction (people have different parenting styles, after all), but even within those small daily interactions, Navira can see the differences between the two career paths she and her husband chose.

“I’m more of the emotional brains of the family and my husband cares about numbers and letters,” she said. “But we balance each other out. And our son is the perfect marriage of our two personalities.”

Navira is a software engineer. Fayad is a data scientist. And while these two careers have a lot of overlap, there are also some subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the two.

Navira didn’t always know that she wanted to become a software engineer. But looking back on her diverse career, hobbies, and interests, it all makes sense now.

She’s been a handbag designer, an entrepreneur, a travel blogger, and even an aspiring novelist. But it was while she was a stay-at-home-mom for two years that Navira realized something was missing from her life. Fayad, her husband, casually suggested she attend a software engineering bootcamp, to which Navira promptly laughed in his face.

“I come from an artsy-fartsy background, nothing that I’ve done is related to anything STEM-focused,” she said.

But the idea slowly began to worm its way into her subconscious. She wanted a career that would be both meaningful and creative, one that would allow her to work for companies or causes that she actually cared about. She wanted a career she could be proud of.

Suddenly, software engineering didn’t seem so far out of reach.

“So then I was like, ‘OK, the only thing I can think of that can give me all the things I need to check off those boxes was software engineering,’” she said. “Every single company needs software engineers, and I could cherry-pick what cause I want to work for that made an impact on the world. Software engineering would give me the raw, hard skills that I could market to get a job.”

She found a proper daycare and began studying five hours a day, five days a week for six months. And all that hard work paid off: Navira was accepted into Hack Reactor’s coding bootcamp in Austin, Texas, on her first try.

Somewhat on a whim, she also applied for Hack Reactor’s scholarship, making a video and writing multiple essays. In the end, she won the scholarship, too, by embodying the kind of grit and creativity needed to become a software engineer.

After she completed the coding bootcamp, Navira became a teaching assistant for the program, then got hired on as a Hack Reactor evangelist. Within a year, she was promoted to director of evangelism.

“It was all because of what I learned from Hack Reactor, which was grit and solving problems,” she said.

Meanwhile, her husband had been watching all of her success. Fed up with his executive-level finance job and inspired by his wife’s tenacity, Fayad decided to enroll in Galvanize’s data science bootcamp program. He began studying Python in his spare time, then enrolled in the program five months later.

Just a few months after graduating, Fayad got a job as a data engineer for Company.com, which supports small businesses with software and services.

Navira says she believes his new career is just the right fit for him.

“He naturally thinks in a logical fashion,” she said. “He’s very analytical, he knows what questions to ask. He already lived in Excel and was very, very advanced in Excel. The way his brain works, data science was definitely perfect for him.”

Meanwhile, Navira feels exactly the same way about her decision to pursue software engineering.

“I wanted to become a front-end engineer because I’m much more creative,” she said. “And then the evangelism role happened and it ties in my people skills and it’s still within tech, so I hopped right on.”

These days, this powerhouse husband-and-wife duo even use relevant software engineering and data science examples in their everyday conversations. 

When they’re at the grocery store trying to decide how many apples to buy, for example, they’ll go down a geeky rabbit hole and dream up a new tool that could help them make the right decision. When a software engineer and a data scientist are married, even the most mundane tasks become an opportunity to solve problems.

“We talk in booleans — the other day, he was trying to explain some concept and he said, ‘It’s like a  boolean false or true,’ and I was like, ‘Ahhh, OK, now I get it,’” she said.

Though they ultimately chose different paths, Navira and Fayad complement each other well, just like software engineering and data science do.

“There’s a ton of overlap and complementary technologies for both sides,” she said. 

So, wondering how to tell which path is right for you, software engineering or data science

 There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but our enrollment advisors can help talk through your options and help you find the bootcamp program that’s the perfect fit. Simply submit your application to get directly connected with an advisor!

And though we can’t guarantee that you’ll find the partner of your dreams during class, we can promise that you’ll fall in love with all the new opportunities available to you, whether you choose software engineering or data science.