How Sarah Mestiri Transitioned from a Software Engineer to a Data Scientist

Almost 3 years ago, Sarah took the decision to quit her job as a software engineer and started working towards becoming a machine learning expert. Along her journey, she came across my series on becoming a machine learning engineer. We connected and I started offering her mentorship.

Now working as a Data Scientist at Remerge GmbH, a mobile App Retargeting company in Berlin, Germany, Sarah is on a mission to make people’s lives better by shaping the latest technologies to build solutions that solve real-world problems.

Here’s a short interview I did with her a while ago. Read to the end and get inspired.

Q. Who is Sarah and where are you in life now?

Q. What is your current job like?

At Remerge, we are a team of data scientists and we handle different projects at a given time. Working as a Data Scientist is challenging as I have discovered it is different from software engineering. As a data scientist, you have to know and understand the business domain more. You also need to have statistics knowledge. As a software developer, I used Java IDEs but now I have switched to Python and Jupyter Notebooks for data exploration and algorithm modeling.

I’m currently working on a recommender system using Item-Item collaborative filtering.

Q: Where were you about 3–5 years ago?

It is then that I decided to do a Java SE Programmer Certified Professional certificate and look for a Java-based developer job. I loved Java and it is more marketable. I finished the certificate and I got a job as a full stack developer in FIS, a finance-based company as a software engineer.

At FIS, I found myself working on front-end web-based applications using Angularjs. However, I wanted more and my desire was to do more of backend development. I also wanted to connect with the products I’m developing. In school, I was always thinking about artificial intelligence, machine learning and was always inspired by face recognition and the recommendations we find on the Internet.

I quit my job and decided to pursue data science and machine learning. I also attended a Data Natives conference in Berlin that covers tech trends and innovations in big data and machine learning. The result was that I connected with a lot of people on social media who I shared my learning goals, experience and challenges with and a myriad of interesting articles about AI and machine learning. I started by creating a plan and enrolled for online courses and later working on projects. After some time, I was ready to search for jobs and that’s how I ended up at Remerge as a data scientist.

Q: What were some of the biggest obstacles you have faced to get to where you are now?

Q: What kind of advice would you give to people who want to transition into another career? For example, switching into data science and machine learning?

First, ask yourself why you want to change careers. From there, you can explore different careers and specific AI domains that you would be interested in.

Secondly, have a plan. I believe that without a plan, you cannot stick to your goals whenever you face some ‘down’ moments. Choose the right courses and make sure you have a time estimate for when you complete them. Also, don’t just rely on online courses or bury yourself in books the entire learning period. Jump in and start work on projects as soon as possible. Learning to explore data and algorithms while you are still learning which will help you make better progress.

Q: What do you hope you achieve in the next 3 to 5 years?

Q: Would you like to become a mentor? We have a program where we want to match promising AI students with successful mentors.

Here are two posts by Sarah connected to her story that will greatly inspire you.

✔ What Helped me Get a Data Science Job that Fits my Ambitions — [Part 1]

✔What Helped me Get a Data Science Job that Fits my Ambitions? — [Part 2]

Connect with Sarah

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Deep Learning Engineer, Teacher, and Entrepreneur