At Duolingo, we pride ourselves on hiring individuals who are passionate about our mission and want to use their expertise to change the world for the better. To give you a peek into what it’s like working for Duolingo, we’ve asked our team members to share more about their experience at the company! Today, meet Soumaya: a data scientist at Duolingo based in Pittsburgh.
Why did you choose Duolingo?
I spent my college years in deep reflection, searching for my life's purpose in the hopes that it would inform my decisions on what to study and where to work.
Though I had heard of Duolingo as a 7th grader just beginning my English learning journey in Tunisia, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to work for the company. Ten years later, Duolingo emerged as my top choice. The company's mission to make education universally accessible aligns perfectly with my own life's purpose and passion for education, and that’s the main reason for my choice.
I feel very fulfilled knowing that everyday, whether directly or indirectly, my work is positively impacting the lives of millions of learners across the globe.
What are three words that describe Duolingo’s culture?
Fast-paced, collaborative, mission-driven
What is unique about working at Duolingo?
As part of a relatively small team, I have the opportunity to work on—and even take ownership of—impactful projects right from the start. I appreciate the trust my team has placed in me, as well as the tremendous support they've provided as I've navigated the learning process. Additionally, I love the sense of community that comes from the company's clubs and language tables. They remind me of a collegiate setting and allow me to connect with like-minded people and improve my language skills.
What do you like most about Pittsburgh?
Though I was an exchange student in Pennsylvania during high school, I never had the chance to visit Pittsburgh, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that Pittsburgh offers everything I'd expect from a city: a diverse food scene, plenty of parks, accessible public transportation, walkable distances, and even an IKEA! But the city is also relatively more affordable and less crowded than other urban areas, which means that everything I need is usually within a ten-minute radius from my home. It definitely has the best of both worlds!
What was your first project as a New Grad and what growth have you noticed in yourself since you’ve started?
As a data scientist on the data refinery team, my main responsibility is making the life of data consumers easier by taking the ingested raw data and transforming it into a more intuitive data to query.
My first project as a New Grad involved ingesting the experimental data from the backend database to BigQuery and refining it to fit the needs of the data consumers. This project posed a steep learning curve as it was my first time dealing with billions of rows of data, and I had never been exposed to the technologies needed for the collection and transformation of Big Data. I spent a good chunk of my sleep dreaming about the problems I was trying to solve! However, thanks to the support of my team and mentor, I overcame these challenges, and am now able to solve the same problem much more quickly and enjoy my sleep more (jk, just dreaming about different problems now, because the learning never ends).
One unique aspect of my experience so far is that I am often the first person to tackle a specific area or question. This means that the work I do provides a wealth of information that was previously unavailable or difficult to access, and therefore a huge amount of analysis and insights are unlocked!
If you could have lunch with one Duolingo character- who would it be and why?
Definitely Zari! She is very cheerful and kind, and she is a representative sample of the women in my life, so it would be homey.