non-academic mentor: Tikitu de Jager


  • graduated from the MoL in 2005; got his PhD at the ILLC in 2009
  • mobile developer (iOS & Android) with Minddistrict


  • short introduction

Before Amsterdam I trained in computer science (a four-year BSc(Hons) program in New Zealand), but when I finished the MoL in 2005 I intended to continue in academia. I went straight into a PhD program (also at the ILLC): I completed my PhD in 2009 and by then it was clear I wasn't suited for a long-term academic career. I continued for a year or so taking short-term teaching work at the UvA, and then the CTO at an Amsterdam startup (himself a MoL graduate) reached out to ask if I was interested in a programming job. Since then I've worked as a programmer (which it turns out suits me far better than academia). I started writing Python in Amsterdam; then moved to Thessaloniki (Greece) but worked remotely for the same company; then in 2015 I started learning iOS development at Minddistrict (also remotely), where I've worked ever since. These days I lead a small team of mobile engineers, building the iOS and Android applications for the Minddistrict platform.

Every major shift in my career came without my having the formal qualifications to match the new position, and each time someone already in my network was willing to hire me "on potential". The most important advice I would give to any MoL student, whether considering a career within or outside academia, is: grow your network (which just means: meet lots of people, find the people you connect with, and keep in touch with them). Beyond that I have experience at a couple of small-to-medium-sized companies (less than 100 employees) based in Amsterdam, on the technical side of making a digital product, and of working remotely in a distributed team: if any of that sounds useful to hear more about, I'm very happy to answer whatever questions you might have!