Life at Big Industries: Interview with Lennert




How did you find out about Big Industries?

I was in my final year of my Bachelor degree and Systems Engineering at the Thomas More Hogeschool. As in most such programs, the final semester is an internship where you're supposed to use a company's resources to work on a project followed by writing a paper describing the deliverables. I looked for an interesting project with good mentoring and found that at Big Industries. Their internship was by far the best documented on the list and I was very happy when I got assigned to it. Looking back, this was incredibly lucky, and a big moment for me. Maybe a week later, I met with the Big Industries' leadership team and my internship mentor - all friendly people. When my internship actually started, it quickly became clear how fortunate I was to be there; the project and mentorship were just incredible. The project was based on a beautiful idea, simple but with limitless potential to expand; collect, transform and show data. My mentor went above and beyond to make sure I had support when I got stuck. Somewhere at the end of the project, I got to meet the entire Big Industries team, and it was lots of fun. I'm very thankful for everything the team did for me. I always said and still say "I got really lucky" with this whole thing. So when I was offered a job after the internship ended, there wasn't much to think about, and it has been a great experience so far.

What do you like about working for Big Industries?

What I like most is that we're a relatively small team and I feel this leads to a great atmosphere. I always look forward to the Big Industries Academy days. These tend to feel more like a gathering of friends than a company meeting. I think this is because the company leaders prefer it that way themselves. Since we're a relatively small company, we can do things like water skiing with the entire team, which is awesome and definitely not something I would have expected to be doing as part of a company training day. 

Apart from the fun aspect, there are other benefits to having a relatively small team too. I feel like an individual rather than a "human resource". For example, if I'm not happy with my project, I can reach out and accommodations will be made. This also rings true with your colleagues; when I get stuck on something, there's always that safety net of being able to reach out to the team for help. And if it turns out to be particularly difficult, there's always our collective-debug channel. I've not seen something go unsolved there.

What was something new you had to learn to do your job?

Probably a stupid response, but for me it was general company do's and don'ts. I had no clue what a real company even looked like. The transition from being a student to become an employee seemed scary. I expected it to be all suits and acting formal. But in reality, the people working here are kindred spirits. They all like to have a good time at work, so you can have a laugh in a meeting and they won't fire you on the spot. So day to day I can mostly be myself, but maybe in a slightly more formal setting. Back to what I had to learn, there are always unspoken rules like dress code and things like that. But since I'm currently working from home, for sure there will be more to learn on-site.

What does your work week look like?

Working hours are usually Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. We get the flexibility to choose the hours ourselves, but it also depends on our client. Since we are still in COVID mode right now, I work from my home office. I usually start my day around 8:30am and start the clusters I'm responsible for by 9am. I do support for the users of these clusters as well as help building big data pipelines for flight data. I also get assigned to general tasks, for example setting up a Python cron job for this or that.

What technology do you like most?

I've been in contact with a lot of exciting technologies, and I'm still learning more every day. For example, I work with Cloudera manager, and the simplest things used to be difficult when I started. But by solving issues, reading blogs about certain features, etc. I feel that I understand it better now. However, my preferred technology is Python. With Python I know I'll be able to do just about anything to do my job. E.g. I get to code things like a job that downloads data from a source and uploads that data to the Data Lake. Those assignments I do like most.

Share your wisdom, Feed the family feel, Dare to grow; can you give an example of a situation where these values were put in practice?

Since I'm still very new in the group, I expected I wouldn't have much wisdom to share with experienced IT gods, but I feel like I've had some useful wisdom sometimes, regardless. For example, we needed to build an interface where you could assemble a query that would then turn into a weblink for a world map, which would show data points depending on the query. Since I had just taken multiple years of courses on web languages, suddenly that wisdom came in handy for one of my colleagues. I helped with the setup of the interface that people now use to access this complex application.

Wisdom can also be about simpler, non-IT related things like dress code or how to act in meetings, we all share this kind of wisdom too. Our family feel is put into practice on Academy days, but for me, I feel like I share a great bond with my close colleagues. As long as it feels more like chatting with your brother than it does like chatting with a colleague, I think we have a good thing going. Dare to grow is to me, about using the opportunities we get from Big Industries to get certifications that prove your knowledge of a certain technology. It has also been about other things, for example sliding off a building from a rope on a team event. To me, that is also a "Dare to Grow" moment.


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