“Technology Will Determine The Future – And is so Much Fun to Build!”
When Junior Data Engineer Susana Jorge first joined Aurai’s Data Engineering traineeship in October of 2022, at times she found data science difficult. “But, like with learning any language, if you persist, memorize and practice, you get the hang of it.” And that’s exactly what she did. “This traineeship has guided me towards solutions without giving away the answers; rather than providing fish, Aurai taught me how to fish. Now, the sky's the limit!” This is her story.
Learning to Speak ‘Coding’
The first 8 weeks of Aurai’s Data Engineering traineeship are an intensive program where you master tiered levels of data management tools and concepts. My first contact with programming was during my Master in Biomedical Sciences – Cellular and Network Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam. I found data science difficult at first and often felt lost when trying to understand and write code. But, like with any language, if you persist, memorize and practice, you get the hang of it. Once you speak coding, the sky’s the limit! It becomes fun when you can create systems, experiences, and analyses. It is a world into itself, one that anyone can always jump in and explore.
Collaborating to Engineer and Analyze Data
I analyzed data for projects focused on animal behavior, evolution, conservation and neuroscience throughout my Bachelor’s in Biology. However, the data pipelines were already there so I never had to worry about developing analysis pipelines. My first contact with hands-on programming was during my Master’s at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in Cellular and Network Neuroscience. What truly pushed me into Data Engineering were my teaching responsibilities as a PhD candidate. Helping students analyze medical data and work with different programs gave me the most daily joy as a PhD student. Then I realized, I don’t need a PhD when I’m collaborating to engineer and analyze data! I just need to become a good data engineer.
An Ambitious, Comprehensive and Complete Traineeship
My knack for collaboration and data pipelines led me towards Aurai’s training programs, an opportunity that I am so grateful for. The traineeship curriculum is ambitious and thus, comprehensive, and complete. The theoretical and practical background cover up to the present day, including the most modern tools used in businesses and the market. The Fall 2022 group of trainees bonded quickly, and I am happy to rely on every single one of them as my colleagues. They’re always there – whether for technical advice, encouragement, or just good conversation. The trainers are deep wells of knowledge. They guided me towards solutions without giving away the answers; rather than providing fish, they taught me how to fish.
Decoding Languages as a Community
I struggled the first two weeks, despite the great support system both at home and at Aurai. My previous experience with programming had never covered the command line; the new possibilities in the cloud and the data management tools. On top of this, the traineeship in Dutch made it hard to keep up because it is my third language. The supportive work environment helped me struggle through. It’s normal to feel frustrated at learning one language in another, especially in your third language. Data science and engineering is challenging for everyone and an alien language to most, so it helps to have a community decoding these languages together.
Building Soft and Technical Skills to Maximize Teamwork
Our traineeship group project worked with data engineer trainees and machine learning engineer trainees on a project for a company called Manufy. The data engineer trainees set up a data infrastructure in Azure to receive, store and send back data, after it went through a machine learning prediction algorithm developed by the machine learning engineer trainees. This was my first experience engineering data for a real business. The incredible collaboration and communication with different experts and specialists laid the foundation for the technical and soft skills required of a Data Engineer. During my traineeship I was introduced to Docker, Kubernetes, Spark, SQL, Snowflake, DBT and Azure, to name a few – and through the group project I was able to strengthen my social intelligence and communication skills and habits to maximize teamwork.
Automatic, Transparent and Accessible Data
I reached the other side where I now feel at home with my tasks as a Junior Data Engineer. I am working at Aurai for BIJ12, a company that uses nature and environmental data to support the twelve Dutch provinces in the implementation of statutory tasks. I am part of the team responsible for the national database of fauna and flora. Presently, I am working on data inconsistencies in a PostgreSQL database. The long-term goal is to transition to a modern and new platform where data processes can become automatic and data regarding our local biodiversity and ecosystems is transparent and more easily accessible.
The Future is Technology (and Female!)
I live with my partner and two dogs with whom I hike and travel together. I’m a trained dancer but now I only dance for fun. I enjoy exploring my creativity with other hobbies like crafting macramé, drawing, gardening, or renovating my house. Clichés are true because so many of us live them. My greatest cliché as a data engineer is that technology will determine the future and that future is so much fun to build! We could use more women in technology as leaders and programmers, diversifying the workforce for what is still frequently a male-dominated industry. I hope more women will join me in engineering data to meet the aspirations technology can reach.
Are you, like Susana, interested in our Data Engineering traineeship? Sign up here!