To me, it’s important to be a hands-on active member of one of the teams.
‘As a student I took part in the Erasmus exchange programme which included a work experience placement in the Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science (EWI) Department at Delft University of Technology in 2011. I loved my time in the Netherlands so much that, after graduating, I seized the chance to work at Eindhoven University of Technology. From 2013 onwards, I worked in the Brainport region on projects for some of the very best high-tech companies around including Philips, TNO and ASML.
Not a backwards step
When a friend recommended the ING traineeship to me I hesitated at first because I didn’t want to take a “backwards step” by doing a second traineeship. But the financial sector appealed to me and I saw it as offering international opportunities. Furthermore, ING the Netherlands’ biggest ICT employer with a strong engineering culture and you’re given real responsibility from day one. So the traineeship is actually a “proper job” but with added benefits: special training, mentoring, international networking events and the chance to see the whole company from a different perspective.
I’m doing my first rotation as a software engineer in the Blockchain Technology Department on a very new and innovative project. We’re exploring how blockchain technology – the best-known application of which is bitcoin – could be applied within the financial industry. We are looking at how this technology can be used for a variety of processes and products, but we’re still in the experimental phase. In order to lay strong foundations, we have to work closely with other companies, including fellow banks, so that we can reach agreement on certain common standards and protocols. At national level, for example, we’re working with the other Dutch banks. Therefore, I’ve been involved in meetings with a lot of different stakeholders to define the technical requirements and align with the business. I’ve then been experimenting to develop part of the software and I’ve also taken part in a couple of hackathons abroad – in Dublin and Romania.
My next rotation will take me to Singapore for three months. I’ll be working in the Process Group for the agile transformation of ING in Asia, ensuring that the processes will be compliant with ING standards, Asian standards and global standards. To me, it’s important to be a hands-on active member of one of the teams to get a thorough understanding of the situation and build trust as the basis for a smooth transition. I have lots of Asian friends, so I’m not expecting too much of a culture shock and I’m looking forward to a great experience!’
While at Patras University, Erikos Alkalai co-founded Greece’s first offline Microsoft community – StudentGuru Patras – which is still going strong today, more than five years later. After obtaining his joint bachelor and master diploma in Computer Engineering and Informatics and doing his one-year national service in the Greek air force, Erikos moved to the Netherlands. He spent two years employed by Eindhoven University of Technology working on high-tech projects before joining ING as an IT trainee in October 2015. He enjoys travelling and getting to know different people and cultures, and eating out with friends. Upon his return from a sailing holiday in Greece two years ago he joined the Boreas sailing club in Eindhoven and has been an avid sailor ever since.