How Thomas looks back to his internship at element61

(written by Thomas Suys - element61 Trainee in 2022)

Thomas Suys

Who are you and what are your educational goals?

My name is Thomas Suys and I am a student Business Engineering – Data Analytics at the University of Ghent. During my Master, I had the opportunity to do an internship as part of my curriculum. A priori, I was convinced that I would learn the most by actually experiencing how Data Science is applied in practice by using it on real-life projects. My conviction was confirmed after 6 extremely interesting weeks at element61.

What did your internship look like? What did you do exactly?

During my internship I had the opportunity to develop a Lead Scoring project, using Microsoft Azure. The main purpose was for this project to be generic and thus applicable on data of many companies. I first started by consulting literature in order to gain knowledge on the subject. Next, I thought about an architecture that would automate all the necessary steps with minimal human intervention. While implementing these steps, I learned to work with Databricks. Finally, I showed the results of my project in Power BI. While developing, I tried out new features that were introduced in the world of Data Science and evaluated their added value in this specific use case.

How did you experience contact with the team of element61?

During my internship, I was part of the Data Science & Strategy team. Already on the first day, I was welcomed with open arms. Not only by the Data Science & Strategy team but also by all the other teams. I immediately felt part of the element61 wolfpack. When I had questions or problems, I could always rely upon my colleagues for helping me out. They really took the time to explain to me what went wrong, why this went wrong and how to prevent this from happening in the future. During lunch we also had interesting conversations, making jokes, etc.

Furthermore, I had very close contact with my supervisor Floriant. Almost every day we had feedback meetings or conversations. Together, we critically reflected on steps, features, tools, architectures, etc. I always felt supported and really learned a lot from him!

What is your biggest takeaway from the internship?

My biggest takeaway would be the application of Data Science in practice. At the University the focus mainly lies upon the modeling part and I always wondered how this is actually applied in real-world applications. Turns out that the modeling is part of a larger end-to-end framework and that the running of code is scheduled automatically. Thanks to my internship, I now see the greater picture and understand the full pipeline going from Data Collection and Warehousing to reporting. Also, I have experienced firsthand the difference between the academic world and practice. In the latter, the focus really lies upon valuable business insights.

What do you want to share with any future students considering an internship at element61?

I would really recommend doing an internship at element61. First of all, I have learned a lot of new things, such as the PySpark programming language, data engineering, Power BI, etc. Next, at the University we mainly see the theoretical side of Data Science. Doing an internship allows you to put that theoretical knowledge into practice. Furthermore, during my 6 weeks here I have seen a lot of real-life cases where Data Science is applied in ways I didn’t knew were possible, illuminating! Finally, you also get to know a bunch of amazing people.