Inside Drift: Meet Nadine Shaalan, Software Engineer

Hey everyone 👋

I’m excited to introduce you to another member of the Drift team.

I know you’ve already met Fernanda Lavalle, Shannon Donovan, Mary Mitchell, and Catherine LaMacchia.

In this edition of Inside Drift, I want you to meet Nadine Shaalan. Nadine started at Drift as a co-op when she was a student of Northeastern University in Boston and joined the team full-time immediately after her graduation.

Ready to meet Nadine? Let’s go ⚡

Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Kaitlyn Martins: Let’s start with the basics. Can you tell me a little bit about what you do here?

Nadine Shaalan: I’m a software engineer on one of the automation teams. I build the internal platform that our team of conversation designers use to build and train automation bots.

Kaitlyn: Very cool. I’d love to learn more about your background and how you came to work at Drift.

Nadine: I was born in Egypt and grew up in New York City. I attended Northeastern University, where I did my second and final co-op at Drift. I knew pretty much after week one that I wanted to work here full-time after graduating.

Kaitlyn: When did you know you wanted to work in tech?

Nadine: I actually was adamantly against working in tech for a really long time. Both of my parents were engineers, so I wanted to be different and go into liberal arts. But my high school required that you take some sort of engineering elective your sophomore year, and after a semester taking a computer science class, I was in love.

Kaitlyn: What does a software engineer at Drift do?

Nadine: As a software engineer on the automation team, I write code to make people’s lives easier. Most of your time is spent coding and testing, but since we’re so customer focused at Drift, we work hard to really understand the problems we’re solving. Software engineers talk to customers, storytime solutions to problems, and create reports to measure outcomes.

Kaitlyn: What does a typical day at your job look like?

Nadine: I don’t know if I have a typical day. I’m really lucky that I get to spend a lot of my day talking to people, which might surprise people about software engineers. I do spend most of my time coding and testing, but I also talk to our users and our designers, shadow interviews, and help set goals for the team.

When I’m working on the front end, I’m working really closely with the designer on our team to think about edge cases, and discuss how we can break down a feature into smaller, ship-able parts.

Because there are a couple different stages of a feature. If we’re about to storytime a project, my day might include some research to understand the background of a problem and explore possible solutions. If we’re about to kick something off, I might take an hour of my day to plan out the potential pitfalls and map out all the things that need to be done for that feature. When the team meets, we’ll decide the priority order for all the different components.

If we’ve just finished working on something, I spend a few minutes writing a post in #Shipyard – a Slack channel we use to keep the company updated on new features that get, well, shipped! It’s one of my favorite channels because everyone is always so excited and supportive about the work we’re all doing, and it’s a really awesome way to stay up to date on what’s happening with other teams.

Kaitlyn: What attracted you to Drift in the first place?

Nadine: I ran into a friend who had been working at Drift for around six months. When I asked him about his job, he spoke so passionately and seemed to genuinely love what he did. I knew that I wanted to work at a place that made me feel that way about work. Then once I got here and got to see first-hand how the company values both personal and professional growth – I understood the hype.

Kaitlyn: What was your dream job as a kid?

Nadine: I definitely had a lot of phases – doctor, lawyer, performer. But I think my biggest one was to work at Pixar.

Kaitlyn: What’s your definition of success?

Nadine: It sounds really cheesy, but if I know more today than I did yesterday, then I’m successful. I think constantly growing is the hardest and most rewarding thing you can do, and if I’m always growing, I’m happy.

Kaitlyn: What’s your favorite part about working at Drift?

Nadine: The people! We have something at Drift called Donut Dates, where you get randomly selected to go out for a coffee/donut/walk with someone in the company. It’s a really cool opportunity to get to know people from different areas of the company, and I think it says a lot that people take the time to chat. The people here are also so caring and so willing to help you, it blows my mind.

Kaitlyn: What’s your favorite book of all time, and what are you reading right now?

Nadine: My favorite book of all time is probably The Little Prince. The meaning changes every time I read it, and I own copies in three different languages. Right now I’m reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens as part of a woman-centric book club here at Drift.

Kaitlyn: What’s something people don’t know about you?

Nadine: I’ve used this in a couple ice breakers now, so I don’t know if this counts as ~hidden~ any more, but I was in two episodes of Blue’s Clues when I was five years old.

Kaitlyn: Last question. Any advice for people who are trying to figure out their own career path?

Nadine: Granted, I’m still pretty early in my own career path, but embracing the unknown and the uncomfortable has been the biggest help to me so far. I was always the type of person who needed to have a plan for everything, but being able to take leaps and practice being uncomfortable has pushed me into opportunities that I wouldn’t have even thought to plan.

Want to join Nadine on Drift’s Engineering team? We’re hiring in Boston, San Francisco, and Tampa. Apply here.