From assistant professor to esteemed data engineer at ASML

Python Kafka Scala

It’s possible, with the LINKIT bootcamp

Once or twice a year at LINKIT we move the office chairs up the corridor and make way for the school benches. Eight candidates who have survived the very heavy preselection will learn the principles of data engineering during our rapid training camp. They are then linked to a potential employer where they work for a year, after which time they have the choice to permanently work there or remain with LINKIT. One of them is former assistant Professor Inan Ates. He turned his career around last year and went from a Turkish university, working at ASML through the bootcamp. It’s time to look back on an eventful year.

Thrown in the deep end

“Tough but nice”, that’s how Inan describes his first year as a data engineer in a few words. “Although the bootcamp gave a good introduction to the most important aspects of data engineering, I was only partly prepared for the challenges I subsequently encountered at ASML. Basically all the technology I had to work with at ASML was new to me. For example, we learned about Kafka during the boot camp, but when I ran into a Kafka problem at ASML, it was quite a challenge to solve the problem.”

Select by learning ability

Interestingly, that’s exactly what LINKIT had in mind. The candidates were not selected in advance on their existing knowledge of data engineering and coding, but on their ability to learn new things. For example, if they were already familiar with Java, they had to perform an assignment in .Net or Python -or any language out of their comfort zone. Then, they are tasked with having to build an application in this new unfamiliar language – usually within a week. The most important assessment criteria were how they met this enormous challenge and how quickly they could absorb new knowledge. Out of about 100 applications, the top eight were then selected for the boot camp.

Senior for learning boost

In order not to make the challenge too heavy, Inan and his two fellow boot-campers did not go to ASML on their own. They were accompanied by a senior, Thiago de Faria, who was tasked to ensure that they continued what they had started during the bootcamp: learning data engineering super fast.

Inan laughs when asked about it. “Thiago certainly makes sure that we are sharp,” he explains. “He constantly asks us questions to which we usually don’t know the answer.”

Quick result

The past year was very instructive for Inan. “At ASML I have been mainly concerned with completing a previously carried out data migration. Before the completion they needed extra hands, so that’s where my colleagues and I came into the picture. At ASML it was particularly important that we quickly made meters and achieved results. To bring more challenge to work, we can now also partly start programming in Scala, rather than in Python. I think that is a considerable improvement. Scala makes it more efficient to apply and log data. Moreover, in my opinion, it is more reliable than Python.”

Unique offer LINKIT

For ASML, too, the past year has been very enlightening. It was interesting for them to see how a team of three newfangled data engineers and a senior would function with them. According to Koen Hendrick, manager Big Data & Advanced Analytics at ASML, the supplement was very valuable. “Experienced Data Engineers are scarce to begin with,” he explains. “In addition, you can teach people how to code, but you haven’t solved your business problem yet. By putting a senior in the juniors, the juniors can learn very quickly in the right context (from ASML) so that they can find the right solutions more quickly. As a result, LINKIT doesn’t just get some extra hands, but really solves a problem for us. “


“When I look at the expectations I had for the bootcamp, they really did come true.” says Inan. “That’s how I wanted to challenge myself and I certainly succeeded,” he says with a sense of understatement. “Before the bootcamp I worked as an assistant professor and was working on a master’s degree in computer science. Unfortunately, the latter was killed,” he says with a grin. “The bootcamp, with ASML after it, was too heavy. It took up all my time.”

Dealing with pressure

A second point in which Inan wanted to challenge himself was dealing with pressure and stress. “As a data engineer, you work under constant pressure. There is always a new problem, for which you have to find a solution very quickly. Then again there is something going on with a pipeline, or there is a problem with a platform. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you fail. Thank God it’s okay. The most important thing is that you can deal with that pressure and that’s what I’m happy about.”

Motivation required

It is clear that following the bootcamp and enduring the following year has a price. “I’m still studying every weekend to update my knowledge,” Inan says. “You really have to be motivated to want to do this job. It certainly doesn’t come naturally.”

The choice

Finally, there is one important question left. Will Inan soon be fully employed by ASML, or will he stay with LINKIT? “I’m leaning towards ASML,” says Inan. “Despite all the pressure, I’m having a really good time there. At the same time, LINKIT is also great – it’s a difficult choice.”

They’re already part of the club

At ASML, they’re already out of there. “They have been hired to work and as far as we are concerned they become employees. If they want to, of course. That’s the way we treat them already. For example, they have blue badges while ‘externals’ have a green badges. They are also invited to internal events. So they’re already part of the club and hopefully they will stay!”

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