Name: Jeroen van den Bos
Prior education: HBO Bachelor's degree in Computer Science (Hogeschool van Amsterdam)
Current position: Software architect at the Netherlands Forensic Institute
'Going back to school after having worked in the field was pretty intense. In a normal job, you get to leave your work behind at five o’ clock. As a student, however, your work never ends. The subject matter wasn’t really the problem, I had a hard time dealing with the other study requirements. I should point out that they do differentiate between people with and without work experience when composing the working groups.'
'At first, I was a bit apprehensive about working in a group. In one course, a group of almost all the students is assigned to form a software company and create a software application. You need to assign everyone a role, draw up a planning schedule, and so on. I was accustomed to working on my own, without other people around me. I suppose I’m somewhat of a solitary computer nerd, I can find it quite difficult to work with others. In retrospect, though, I really enjoyed the process.'
‘This programme takes a much more in-depth look at the subject matter than comparable courses at a university of professional education. A software application may work, but what does that really mean? Does it mean the programme doesn’t contain any bugs? That’s highly unlikely. So, is that a bad thing? How do you find out? These are the types of things you learn to think about during the Master’s programme. It really goes to the heart of the matter; they try to give you some perspective and teach you to reflect on your field.'
'Coming from the commercial sector, I did find the curriculum rather vague at the beginning, and I wondered how useful it would be in practice. It might sound arrogant, but I really thought of myself as an excellent programmer before the start of the Master’s programme. Over the course of the year, however, I was really confronted with my own preconceptions. Now, I reflect a lot more on my field. Today, if someone asks me if a software application is good, I ask them what they mean by that. Some people might find that annoying at first, but everyone benefits in the end.'
'If there’s anyone out there with a lot of practical experience wondering whether the programme will be useful, I can definitely recommend that they do it anyway. If you’re a hobbyist and a self-taught programmer, you obviously read a book from time to time, but you only do the things you find appealing. You don’t really learn about the basics, and that’s something this Master’s programme definitely offers.'
'I’ve been working as a Software architect at the Netherlands Forensic Institute for the past eight years. We develop software tools used by the police, such as a software application to trace stolen mobile phones. Digital evidence is also becoming increasingly common in the courtroom. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that forensic software tools are reliable and verifiable. These are the sorts of things we focus on at the NFI. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see I was very task-oriented in the past. My attitude was basically: 'This is what needs to be done, and this is how I’m going to do it’. Nowadays, I spend a bit more time thinking about the most intelligent and transparent way of solving a problem. I think it’s made me a better sparring partner for my clients.'