Ida Helene is a researcher at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI).
Why did you choose to study economics?
I began studying economics because of an interest in the use of mathematics and quantitative methods. The subject grew on me as I gained an understanding of what it really was and what it could be used for.
Economics suits me, since I enjoy the debates and issues at the intersection of politics and economics.
How did you get the job?
The entrance to my current job was through the Norwegian Association of Economicsts (Samfunnsøkonomene) “Kandidattreffet”.
This is a yearly event organized as a meeting place for employers and students. Here FFI hosted so-called "speed interviews" lasting 15 minutes, which was a great opportunity to learn more about an unknown employer. The speed interview was a positive experience, which led me to apply for a position. I was later employed after a standard interview process.
What are your tasks in your current job?
A researcher’s tasks at the FFI is varied, and I manage my work hours largely myself within the framework of what to deliver. My first research assignment at FFI was to write a report about international expenditure on military defense (for example, in NATO or China", along with my project manager.
I am also working on updating and developing our own separate database which includes data on personnel in the Armed Forces.
The work tasks range from report writing and presentations to data analysis and Excel work.
How is the knowledge you acquired through studying economics relevant to your current job?
My education has provided me with analytical tools, the ability to think systematically and to approach problems in a structured way.
I use these tools on a daily basis, to a greater or lesser extent. A central part of the research work is computing, analysis, and critical assessment of results. Here too, the background from economics is valuable.
Do you have any career advice for economics students?
Attend career days during the first year of the master program. This forces you to reflect on the way forward, as opposed to just doing well on the upcoming exam. You can score simple points with a potential employer, taking advantage of the time spent reading up on the employer, or thinking about questions you want to ask.
In the end, you can also benefit from thinking a little outside the box. In my case, I really enjoy the FFI, a somewhat untraditional workplace for economists.
(The interview was originally conducted in Norwegian, and is translated to English).