Interview with Job Wentink: From MARUG Board Member to Microsoft Data and AI Specialist
You studied a Masters in Analytics and Data Science. What sparked your passion for this field?
Job Wentink: After finishing my Bachelor's in International Business, I wasn't sure which path to take next. I decided to do a board year at the MARUG. During this year, and especially by attending events like the MARUG Conference, I discovered that I like marketing. That’s what drove me towards the MSc Marketing Analytics & Data Science. I liked that it contained some more ‘’hard skills’ like learning how to write code, which is more fun than I thought. Especially the way of thinking, and what a company can do with its data, is something I still use in my work - so I’m not regretting my master’s choice.
Could you share your experience working for MARUG during your board year?
Job Wentink: During my board year at MARUG, I took on the role of External Relations. It involved handling MARUG's connections with various companies and overseeing committee ties with them. My goal was to secure funds through acquisition for the MARUG. But most importantly, I worked alongside my five other board members, we collectively managed and steered the operations of MARUG. This was fun and taught me a lot, and I still meet with them regularly.
How did your MARUG experience contribute to your current job, if at all?
Job Wentink: The MARUG is a bit like a mini-company and you have to take responsibility for tasks as a group a bit more professionally than what you’re used to. As a student I would mostly work in a group for a short term for assignments, whereas with MARUG it is for a year where you are constantly setting goals and what to achieve these goals. For me it was a nice balance of being a student, so you can make mistakes and still enjoy your student life, but simultaneously you have actual responsibilities and learn a lot of skills.
Landing an internship at Microsoft is impressive. What advice would you offer students seeking such opportunities?
Job Wentink: Securing a thesis internship at Microsoft came through a friend from my master’s program who was writing his thesis at their Amsterdam office. I thought it was a cool company so I asked him about it. He turned me towards Microsoft’s LinkedIn page, and
I saw they were looking for an intern and then I just applied. I would recommend people to do internships if they have time. Previously, I interned at FrieslandCampina, because I always thought I wanted to work in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods market. After a few weeks I discovered through doing the internship that I only liked certain aspects of it like working with data, so the Microsoft internship seemed more to my liking.
Did you foresee working in AI when you joined Microsoft, considering it was a relatively new domain?
Job Wentink: No, not at all. This came up when I was working at Microsoft. It was last November, when ChatGPT was announced, and everybody was so amazed by this technology. I was working in a different department at Microsoft. At some point, Microsoft bought a large stake in OpenAI, the company responsible for ChatGPT. I knew I wanted to work in this area, so I applied for this new job as an AI specialist at Microsoft. I still have a lot to learn so I am kept busy. I think for now I am in the right place. In this domain, what you're doing today might be totally different in just a couple of years. This rapid change of innovation is something I really like.
What advice would you give to students undecided about their career path?
Job Wentink: I think the best thing to do is to talk to people in companies, also of course MARUG can help you with that. Essentially those are the people you need to work with every day. So I would advise students to reach out to old housemates that work in companies or go to events like the Recruitment Days or the MARUG Conference. Companies are there to meet you so you can get a feeling if you like it. If you have the chance to do it, an internship is a very good opportunity to help you to know what you want. I know it takes time and it is usually paid badly, which sucks a lot, but I still recommend it because in the end it is a very good way to get to know what you like. For me, I initially aimed for FMCG companies but discovered I didn’t like it. These experiences help you understand your preferences and are key in making informed career decisions. It also helped me to land a job at Microsoft.
Also, join trips like the International Marketing Experience. I did this as well when I was a student and I remember visiting the office of Microsoft in Lisbon. For this year, the MARUG reached out to me and I helped them organize the visit to the office of Microsoft in Berlin. So, if you’re interested in what it’s like to work at Microsoft, please join this year’s IME. It’s a fun experience and besides having fun in a foreign city, you get to see a lot of cool companies, too.
Any advice for unwinding after work or studying?
Job Wentink: Just keep doing the things you like during exam periods, whether it is sports or cooking or having some beers with friends. Sometimes you are so busy you skip these things, and you basically live in the UB for a few weeks. I did this as well when I studied and could feel quite drained after weeks like that. Of course, studying is important, especially in the exam season, but you should also schedule some time to do fun stuff.
You Can Be As Lucky As Job!
A few years ago, Job also went on the international in house tour to Lisbon, Portugal, and it was here where he visited Lisbon Microsoft office and got to know the inner workings of the technological titan, and while the in-house tour did not completely convince him to work at Microsoft, it definitely influenced his decision to do the internship. So, essentially by going on the international in-house tour and visiting the Microsoft office and acknowledging just how cool it was to be in there it indirectly influenced him get to where he is now, so you never know, those of you who are going on this in-house tour might now be visiting the company who is your future employer in a few years, just like our alumni Job Wentink.