Meet the Engineers: Nita Patel

Why did you get first get started in software engineering?

By process of elimination. I moved to the US when I was in 10th grade so my high school years were spent trying to catch up with culture/language while learning how the school system worked. At that time, I only knew of two main career choices: something related to healthcare or engineering. I couldn’t remember the long and complicated terms in biology so I ruled out going into healthcare fields. Since my grades in math-related classes were decent, I enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a Computer Science major, eventually receiving a Master's degree. Given there were already two engineers in my house, I was adamant about following a different path instead of going into same old engineering field. Little did I know that Computer Science is a sibling of Computer/Software Engineering!

Why did you chose to join Credit Karma?

A former co-worker, Andy, joined Credit Karma a few years ago and was very passionate about Credit Karma and it’s mission. Recently, I was sitting with him at a local coffee shop. Andy explained how Credit Karma really works - that they help more than 60 million people make financial progress - and I knew right away that I could see myself working there. He told me about how Credit Karma provides suggestions that are very personalized and the smart analytics that go into those suggestions. I was working on text analytics at that time so it was refreshing to learn that this personalization and analytics were going into each suggestion that was made to our member. It would have been a mistake to pass up the opportunity to work with the amazing team we’ve got right now.

We use a lot of the latest tools and technologies in all aspects of the product development process. Plus, working with the Charlotte team on our new, free tax product has all the good things about a small startup (less process heavy, most people are in the same office so great work efficiency, etc.) with the benefit of having the support of an established company. Last but not least, I believe in Credit Karma’s amazing philosophy and mission to help people improve their financial position regardless of where on the spectrum they fall.

Another key factor that made the company very attractive to me was unlimited sick days for yourself and your family. I have a 21-month old son who attends daycare and and he attracts lot of unwelcome friends (germs/viruses/bacteria), which result in me taking time off to take care of him. As a parent, I cannot emphasize enough what a blessing it is not have to worry about keeping tally of the vacation days left.

What are you working on now? What’s the impact?

I am currently working on a new service we just announced called Credit Karma Tax (you can read the Forbes article). With this service, people will be able to file federal and state tax returns at no cost. Not only it is free but there is a dedicated support team answering any questions that our members may have. The obvious benefit is cost saving for our members. Americans spend $100 per person on filing fees every year so you can imagine how much good that money can do back in their pockets. Credit Karma in general provides so much more. I was fortunate enough that my dad taught me the importance of having a good credit score and how to navigate credit. But lots of people don’t get that benefit and make mistakes that cost them more money in high interest rates or lower approval ratings. We provide information that can help members improve and maintain their finances.

Credit Karma Tax is an additional tool we’re providing to help people achieve the same goal. That’s the amazing thing about working here, not only do I get to work on the latest technology, but what I’m working on really has an impact on our members’ lives.

What motivates you to do what you do, especially when it gets hard?

It was made very clear to me before I joined that the first few months would be busy because of how much needed to be done to launch Credit Karma Tax. However, when I see a very smart and dedicated team around me working hard everyday to make the project happen, it automatically gives me the desire and push to join that effort. So I always try to ensure that when people count on me to get something done, I am doing my best to move things forward. It all comes down to accountability. And we’ve a very fun team, which makes the “working hard” part easy.

What keeps you happy and healthy in your free time?

I love movies, almost all genres. I absolutely love to plan for and take vacations. Nowadays, I am always eager to show my son new things in life and watch his reactions. Basically, I take pleasure in the simple things in life when I am with my family.

About the Author

Nita is a software engineer on the Systems Engineering and Integration Team working to #FreeYourTaxes.