Get coffee. Make copies. Repeat.That sounds like a nightmare internship, right? And luckily, it’s far from DPG Media’s reality. Two of our tech interns share their experiences.
AI and Data Science interns
Meet Sinem Ertem (pictured here). She studies Artificial Intelligence at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. No, forget that: she’s finished her studies as her internship at DPG Media was her final project. So congratulations to her! She created a machine learning model to classify vacancies on NationaleVacaturebank.nl with ISCO codes (International Standard Classification of Occupations). Sinem: “My DPG Media mentor Jeffrey Luppes had already done a lot of groundwork on this project. My challenge was to create a model that is better than his.” She succeeded, by the way.
And meet Clara Rus. She is working on her master thesis for her Data Science studies at Radboud University in Nijmegen. She researches gender bias in recruitment automation. Clara: “I applied to a few companies, but I felt an instant match here. My DPG Media mentor Gido Schoenmacker liked my research idea and wanted to support me.” She remembers it as an easy application process: “I just wrote an email, we had an online call, and that was it.”
Getting started was pretty smooth for both Clara and Sinem. Pick up a DPG Media laptop, access the data from Nationale Vacaturebank, and connect to AWS to run their code - ready, set, go. They both work remotely and come to the office weekly to meet with the team and discuss their progress with their mentors, Gido and Jeffrey.
That support system is essential, says Sinem. “Sure, I’m responsible for my project and planning, but it’s good to have regular progress updates - for discipline and learning purposes. Jeffrey really took the time to help and guide me.”
Support came from their mentors, help from other colleagues, and the option to join a training or attend an event. They joined an AWS training in the office and had the chance to go to the AWS event in Brussels and the Tweakers Development Summit. Sinem: “It’s pretty cool that we can do that as interns. We don’t even need to ask; we’re included automatically.”
My thesis has real-life value: I help debias recruitment.
From research to reality
You often hear from interns that their research ends up in a bottom drawer somewhere, never to be looked at again. That’s not the case here at all, both confirm. Clara: “I really like my research topic and can use real data. It’s not just academic research; I can help debiasing recruitment in real-life. That’s pretty awesome.”
Sinem loves that many people show an interest in her research. Not only her direct colleagues but also people from other teams and disciplines. “I present my progress sometimes in different groups, which always gives me new input and insights that I can use.”
Full-fledged team members
Even though they each have their own research project, Clara and Sinem feel part of the team. They participate in all the daily meetings, for example. Clara: “All my colleagues know what I’m doing, and I can easily ask for help. And I think it’s super interesting to hear what others are working on - from a data science perspective and other disciplines. I never imagined how much work is put into the marketing part of websites, for example.”
Apart from the work-related get-togethers, Sinem appreciates the communal lunches with the team and company events to strengthen the team bonds. They both attended the annual IT event, where they learned to perform as an orchestra. Clara played the tambourine and Sinem the violin - both have decided to stick to data science though. ;-)
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Six months are over before you know it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Work-life vs. university life
Clara is happy that she now has a better idea of what working in data science would look like in the real world. She planned to obtain a Ph.D. because she likes research so much, but now she’s not so sure anymore: “I also like the actual work, so I still have to figure out what I’ll do next year.”
For Sinem, too, it was good to gain a better understanding of the engineering side. “I’m not an engineer, more of a Data Scientist. So when I got stuck with my model, my mentor Jeffrey helped me out with things like setting parameters. And from the others, I learned what they do with the databases daily. So I now have a much better idea of what it’s like to actually work in machine learning.”
Besides gaining work experience, Clara also got to experience the Dutch work culture. As a Romanian living in Germany, she noticed a few differences. “Workwise, things are practically the same in the Netherlands and Romania, but the lunch… I’m not used to cold lunches. I normally go to a restaurant or something. So this was… different.” She puts it politely.
To all future interns
Any words of advice for future interns? Clara says to just go for it: “It’s fun, and you learn a lot. People are very willing to help you and are happy you’re here.” She also appreciates the freedom to do your own research, so she recommends being very clear about the type of internship you want to do. “DPG Media understands the difference between regular and master thesis internships. And I get a lot of guidance from my mentor and team along the way.”
Another thing to consider is the size of the company you’ll do your internship at. For example, Sinem also did an internship at a start-up and found it very different. “It was a small team, and the available means and information were quite limited. At DPG Media, everything is much more organized, which I like.” So, make sure you pick the right company for you, says Sinem. If you do, time flies. “Six months are over before you know it. I worked on my project and got to meet so many people and pick up some side projects too. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”