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I recently started a new job as a data engineer. Since I have a background in data science, the first thing my boss did was to assign me to support a data scientist on his project. How can I make sure I do not get assigned to data science projects anymore?

I understand that this colleague of mine is struggling with his tasks but I applied and was accepted to be a data engineer and not a scientist. Personally, I've grown to hate data science for many reasons but at the end of the day it feels like my boss has done a bait and switch on me since basically day two of my time in this company. It feels very unfair. Since I am a new hire, this assignment caught me by surprise and I hesitate to speak up against it.

Advice on how to set things straight? Shall I talk to my boss directly about this? Talk to my colleague? Or take on so much work from data engineering that I have to excuse myself from this project? I don't want to start off with a conflict, but at the same time splitting my time between science and engineering is causing me a lot of stress.

EDIT:

Engineer: takes care of cloud infra, pipelines, processing.

Scientist: analyses data, applies statistical modeling.

The project is the priority for my boss, we get daily pressure on this, I cannot devote adequate time to engineering topics. And the project is long-term.

Some comments seem to imply that I should just do what is asked of me, however I did mention already in the original post that science is a lot of stress for me - because the way it is done in the corporate world has a lot to do with short deadlines, ad-hoc requests, and a lot more pressure in general than engineering. And this is my experience. I used to be employed as an analyst which is very similar to scientist in the companies where I work - I developed anxiety and it ruined my everyday life. Precisely why I worked hard to make my next job engineering and not science. I think it also cannot be dismissed that the job title and description I was hired for was engineering, and I was not told during the interviewing that I may be required to fill other roles. Besides, for the past two years I worked exclusively as an engineer.

I would not see quitting as a solution, as I recently started this position.

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    Are Data Engineering and Data Science roles quite different in your company? Care giving a bit of examples of the roles and tasks? Also, you state that your boss assigned you to "support" your colleague... support usually means helping whenever you can but not forgetting your own projects and tasks... care enhancing on how or to what degree your boss assigned you to support your colleague?
    – DarkCygnus
    Oct 26, 2022 at 19:26
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    I have decades of familiarity with IT, but I'd struggle to know what a "data engineer" or "data scientist" even is. Even having looked them up, I'm unclear how a "data engineer" would differ from a "programmer", how a "data scientist" differs from a "statistician", or how either resemble "science and engineering".
    – Steve
    Oct 26, 2022 at 21:35
  • How long have you been supporting the data scientist? Is it all you are doing? Oct 26, 2022 at 21:46
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    Are you sure your boss asked you to support a data scientist because of your background and not because they have different understanding from you how is data engineer different? You are not new to this world, surely you would know how meaningless a lot of these buzzwords have become... I have mostly the same understanding of these roles as you except some data scrubbing might fall under engineering tasks, but I know for a fact most managers wouldn't understand why they need so many people in the data science team and how are these roles different at all.
    – Lodinn
    Oct 28, 2022 at 22:37
  • I've been in your shoes (but in the opposite direction). I accepted an offer as a DS but got assigned to do DE tasks since there were no DS projects at the time. 15 months later, I found out that those DS projects (that looked very attractive to me) existed, but my managers wanted me to stay in the position I got assigned. I quietly started to look for DS positions at other companies... and I found them! I got a substantial salary increase, and most importantly, I´m working on things I like. This may be your case, or maybe not. Just make sure that your managers know about your preferences. Dec 14, 2022 at 13:06

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Hired for one position but working for another

You don't know this yet. This is literally your first assignment. To be able to confidently say that you are working for another position a pattern would have to be established and you have not spent enough time nor received enough assignments at this company for that to be the case. You need to give it some more time to determine if this is the case.

In any job, you can occasionally be asked to assist with projects that do not fall solely under the role that you were hired for. This is especially true, as in your case, if you have a background in the business need that the company is aware of.

Advice on how to set things straight?

Talk to your boss and ask them what sorts of assignments they have in mind for you in the future. You can express to your boss that you would prefer not to be involved in any data science work, but that is no guarantee that you won't receive data science assignments. The only thing you would be "setting straight" is you unwillingness to do specific tasks and usually that is not good for your future at a company.

Understandably, if you want nothing to do with data science then this means you will need to look for a new company to work for that is more in line with the work that you want to do. You probably would need to re-work your resume to remove as much of the data science aspects of your work history as possible. In any interviews you will need to ask if you will be required to do any data science work. Obviously, this may make it more difficult to find a job but at least you are more likely to find a job in line with what you want to do.

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Shall I talk to my boss directly about this?

Yes. Talk to him in a calm, constructive, and professional manner.

Explain to him your desire to work in a different area. If he still insists on giving you the assignment you don't want, then you should still take it for now, and ask him that in the future, if there is a task that matches your interest, please assign that task to you.

On the other hand, the work experience you do not like today may turn out to be a valuable asset on your resume in the future.

Generally, the more experiences you have in many different areas of software development, engineering, data sciences,... the better the scope of your skillsets and experiences will be. This will look great on your resume. In the future, when you apply for new jobs, employers will value your skillsets more. In many cases, employers prefer employees who are willing to learn and work with many different technologies as the jobs require.

So, this may also be an opportunity to improve and expand your skillsets even though it may be somewhat stressful in the beginning. All software developers have to go through a little stressful phase when they first start working in the industry. After a while, they will get used to it, and feel much more comfortable with the jobs.


At the same time, if you wish, you can also start job searches to find jobs that match your interest better while working for your current company. Please note that people usually stay with a company for at least 1 year if possible because that will show they want to work with companies for the long term.

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    "the more experiences you have in many different areas of software development, engineering, data sciences,... the better the scope of your skillsets and experiences will be" - minor nitpick: OP stated that they already have background in Data Science, and is looking to get more experience in Data Engineering... so yeah, expanding skillsets is desirable, but it's exactly such thing that OP is currently unable to do (as they are "stuck again" with Data Science instead of Data Engineering).
    – DarkCygnus
    Oct 26, 2022 at 19:42
  • -1 while it's true diverse experience can help you, you can't really extrapolate to specific advice to the OP and say it's a great career move. Often one makes more money based on scarcity of skillset and at a certain level, it's probably true that there are more jacks of multiple trades than masters of one. It's tough to switch between those two paths once you've started advanced far enough. We don't know how far progressed OP is along his/her career and which type (jack vs master) he prefers to be. Oct 26, 2022 at 22:34
  • FWIW, staying one year at a company does not necessarily demonstrate "they want to work with companies for the long term." 1 year is not long at all
    – cdkMoose
    Oct 27, 2022 at 8:26
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Depending on the size of the Organization, I would actually talk to HR first (if there is a formal HR team).

You want to outline that you accepted the Job Opportunity on the understanding that you would be a Data Engineer and that you have no interest in Data Science.

Then ask if this is an aberration or the norm. If it's a one-off project that they need to get over the line, I would just get it done, but advise the company in writing what your expectations are, e.g.:

"Just following up on the Chat we had on (date) - It is my expectation going forward that this is a one-off project and I will not be relied upon to assist with Employee or other Data Science Projects - as this falls outside of the scope of the position that I accepted"

If they advise it's the norm (or more likely - refuse to confirm that it is just a one-off) - I would simply start looking for another Job, hand in your Resignation and tell them that this is not the position that you accepted and that you have no interest in the field of Data Science and therefore will not be continuing to work for them.

For a smaller organization where HR is effectively your Boss - I would have a similar conversation - but perhaps a bit softer (when there is an HR department, they can take a coarse message and smooth over the edges) - but the key points remain the same - you are willing to assist on a one-off, but if this is the expectation of the company and the position moving forward, then you will seek employment elsewhere as this is not the role you accepted.

It's perfectly reasonable to walk out of a role that differs enough from what the expectation is/was.

I would hazard a guess that the company probably doesn't see much difference between the roles of Data Scientist and Data Engineer - however, that's irrelevant - you see a significant difference and have an aversion to one over the other.

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    I wouldn't go to HR first over my manager! I'd bring cautiously bring it up with them, and see what they say. It could be that they view data engineer and data science as the same thing and didn't even know you would be unhappy with that. No need to go over their heads right off. Oct 26, 2022 at 20:10
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    If they are big enough to have an HR department, then realistically, it's HR who are responsible for things like Job roles, titles responsibilities etc. Hence IMO - this is more an HR issue than a manager issue. If not, then yeah - direct to the Manager. Oct 26, 2022 at 20:16
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    NEVER talk to HR before talking it out with your manager unless you are willing & ready to burn that bridge. Most managers will take this as unrecoverable vote of no confidence.
    – Hilmar
    Oct 26, 2022 at 20:16

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