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In the Spotlight 4: Robin Muilwijk

This week in Spotlight Friday we’re going into the Open Source field. I’m happy to introducte to you: Robin Muilwijk. He’s Advisor Internet and e-Government and serves among others as a community moderator for Opensource.com. He’s advocate for open source in our businesses and lives.

Name: Robin Muilwijk
Job: Advisor Internet and e-Government (at municipality of The Hague)
Favorite website, app or gadget: My favourite website is Opensource.com! Favourite app is definitely Twitter, it helps me keep in touch with my network. And finally, as favourite gadget, the  Raspberry Pi. I still need to buy one, keep putting that off.
Twitter:  @i_robin
Site:  http://opensourceshed.nl/ (My own blog, where for now, I keep most of what I write for Opensource.com)

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I actually didn’t start in IT. I studied electronic engineering, and worked in that area for just over 10 years. In 2000 I started as medical electronic engineer, at the Erasmus University (Rotterdam, Netherlands), where I made the switch to IT. This is where I grew into roles like configuration- and change-manager (ITIL). Most of my career I worked in healthcare and local government. During this professional career, I got to learn a lot about open source. And this is what currently drives me, and makes me pursue my career in IT.

What does your working day look like?
Being an advisor doesn’t mean I write reports all day. In fact, part of my job is also to maintain the website, and some other related information systems, for the municipality of The Hague.  So my day usually starts with checking these systems, work through my e-mail, and once I have this out-of-the-way, I spend quite some time on maintenance and development of the systems I am responsible for. If there is time left, after scheduled meetings, I spend time on projects I might be involved with, or write advisory reports.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Building, and later on maintaining, what is called a key registration in the Netherlands at my own municipality where I worked for almost five years as data engineer. It involved a wide variety of tasks, like implementing processes throughout the organization, gathering, cleaning and combining data, and a lot more. The cool part was to see the result, this dataset, which could be used by the entire organization. And also being in the top 10 of municipalities that connected this key registration to a nationwide network/registration.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
Not one, but a few actually. It’s the people I get to work with, in the open source projects I’m involved with. Nicolas Pastorino in the eZ Publish project, and Jason Hibbets at Opensource.com, they are like mentors and share their knowledge and experience freely. They not only inspire me, I also get to learn from them.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I get to do what I love, which is to work with internet and CMS’s, and also partially with open source. And besides that, as you might have noticed in the different roles I’ve had, the variety of work. For me, the cherry on the cake, is open source. To be able to share and collaborate. That makes IT fun for me.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I am actually following a bachelor in IT right now. When I made the switch from electronic engineering to IT, I followed a lot of courses, but for my personal development I chose to get this degree. Looking back at the first years in IT, a degree certainly would have helped me. But back then, I managed quite well without. I’m a quick learner, self-taught, so to say. After 15 years, you can give me anything from Windows to Linux, Java to .NET, and Oracle to MSSQL. I’ll know my way around on all of these platforms. Besides the bachelor, I am also learning some programming, and Linux, through MOOC’s at edx.org.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Simple, start early! And make sure you get to know both Linux and 2 or 3 programming languages.  Python is a great language to start with. If you are really young (7 to 15), check out a local CoderDojo. They have great programs to teach children how to code.

Extra question from Trisha: What do you love most about your job? It think this is subtly different to what you love about working in IT, because it probably varies from role to role.
I like to work in the area between business and IT. Represent, and advise the business, on their IT demands and needs, with all the knowledge and experience I have. To be a translator, and facilitator, to link business with IT.

Thank you Robin!