Getting Ahead of Change: From Higher Education to Ordina
Author: Marijn Allaert, Jonathan Beullens, Stijn Straetmans, Nicole Horward, Quinten Van Casteren, Jebbe Steffens, Wouter Vandenheede, Nick Van den Bossche, Liam Steyaert & Sammy Puttemans
Edited by: Iris van Bussel
“Moving forward in life is something that cannot be avoided. Before you know it, your childhood has passed, and you are starting a higher education. The next step is making the big leap into the unknown world of business and offices” (Nick Van den Bossche, Ordina intern).
Everyone who works at Ordina could tell you how fun it is to work here. However, we want to give you some proof that it is as good as you may have heard or read on this blog. That is why this post will be dedicated to the experiences that our interns had while doing their internship for the VisionWorks business unit at Ordina. Instead of us telling you, read for yourself what kind of work environment and interesting projects Ordina can offer you!
Most students of higher education have to do an internship. But how do you pick the right one? You want to feel comfortable and at ease while also doing an interesting project. It can be hard to find a place that matches with your own interests and needs.
“If you are looking for an internship where you get a lot of opportunities and can work on fun projects you have come to the right place at Ordina” (Marijn Allaert).
Marijn came into contact with Ordina through Thomas More. What he loved about his internship was that he could work on a project that interested him instead of a random assignment. His internship project was about the collection of traffic data, a case he worked out together with his internship mentor.
“The combination of good guidance and mentors who have to work on location makes you very independent during your internship and you can plan and execute a project yourself” (Marijn Allaert).
At Ordina, we try to give our interns the right amount of guidance while also encouraging them to work independently.
A lot of our interns encounter Ordina because of our partnership with Thomas More. Jonathan Beullens is not an exception. His internship was about exploring new functionalities within Power BI. This means he looked at the usage of QR-codes but also the possibility of holographic visualizations.
“From the moment I took my first step inside the office at Ordina Mechelen, I felt at ease. This feeling only got stronger during the initial meetings, so I knew this had to be my internship” (Jonathan Beullens).
The thing that struck him about his internship is that it is not always about working.
“Ordina organizes many activities and events outside of office hours that you can easily register for. These are great opportunities to get to know your colleagues and put your work aside for a while” (Jonathan Beullens).
Our interns are equal to our regular employees, so they are encouraged to participate in any of our activities, sessions or events
Four of our interns (and not all from Thomas More 😉) got to work on a very special project. Through Ordina, they worked on a project for the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (or EGPAF in short). EGPAF is fighting to end HIV and AIDS all over the world. This project required multiple interns to help structure, visualize and utilize EGPAF’s data more efficiently. The four interns worked for teams in Malawi and Kenya. It was a substantial task for these interns to work on a real project where a solution was needed.
“Ordina did not make up an assignment for me to work on, but I could work on a project with a customer” (Stijn Straetmans, intern Big Data Analytics).
Moreover, their project would be used to solve problems that EGPAF did not have time themselves to look at. Nicole Horward worked on a data science solution for the team in Kenya to analyze and visualize data they had concerning healthcare.
“It was marvelous to work with so many different people and to be able to contribute to a great cause” (Nicole Horward).
If it is possible, we try to let our interns contribute to real projects instead of giving them a fictional project. Nonetheless, it is more likely that problems will pop up when working on a real project. The interns who worked on the EGPAF project had a communication problem with the teams in Malawi and Kenya. The communication was not as good as the interns had hoped and it proved to be difficult to stay in contact with the teams. However, they always had other colleagues and interns to fall back on if they needed help.
“Because I worked together with my fellow intern Stijn Straetmans, we could discuss problems and next steps over coffee. If there were any major problems or we wanted to get a more professional opinion on our work, we could always rely on the people at VisionWorks to help us out and guide us along the way” (Quinten Van Casteren, DataViz Intern).
The fourth intern of this project was Jebbe Steffens. He has created a predictive model that monitored which patients will defect from their HIV treatments. He described his experience working for Ordina in the following way:
“Ordina is like a big family, where everyone takes care of each other. Even though most employees are rolled out at clients, they will not hesitate to help you if you contact them” (Jebbe Steffens).
Everyone here is very willing to help one another, whether you are an intern or an employee. Moreover, for some of our interns, this is not where their Ordina adventure stops. Most of our interns end up as employees. This is also the case for Stijn.
“The cherry on top is the job Ordina offered me after my internship” (Stijn Straetmans).
We do not only offer data visualization and data science projects. Some of our internship projects are more technical. An internship project that we had going on this year that was more technical was creating a BIML framework. This project was carried out by Wouter Vandenheede and Nick Van den Bossche. One of the things interns note the most, as did Wouter, is that the atmosphere at Ordina is relaxed.
“Employees here do not feel as pressured or stressed like I noticed at other companies” (Wouter Vandenheede).
Everyone has deadlines, even our interns, but we try to make them feel at ease as much as possible so they can carry out their project well. Wouter liked our relaxed atmosphere so much that for him “this has made Ordina into one of the best places I have had the pleasure to do my internship at.” For Nick, the positive atmosphere and comfortable environment was remarkable.
“All of this makes Ordina a great company to start your professional career. You can learn to grow into the office life and discover the way the corporate world works (Nick Van den Bossche)”.
Not all of our interns did a project for other customers. Some interns also worked on projects that benefit Ordina. Liam Steyaert created a basic visualization library for his internship. His project is actively used within VisionWorks. Even if you do not work on a project for a customer, you can still make a difference. He also really liked doing his internship at Ordina.
“I really enjoyed the way I could work on this project. In my opinion, Ordina was the best place where I could have done my internship” (Liam Steyaert).
We want to give our interns the opportunity to make someone’s life better, so why not improve the lives of those who work at Ordina as well? Our last intern, Sammy Puttemans, worked on a project that was focused on improving our lives at the workplace. Sammy built a pizza notification service.
“This system works with a pizza box recognition built in a camera. If the camera detects a pizza box, it will send the right customer an email and text message” (Sammy Puttemans).
We order pizza so much, that this will actually help us save a lot of time! For Sammy, it was great to solve a problem that helps people here at Ordina.
“My goal was to improve the user’s day-to-day life and save Ordina costs by using this system” (Sammy Puttemans).
Both Liam’s visualization library and Sammy’s pizza delivery notification system provided a desperately needed solution for us.