Erlend Sveen Finstad works as a project engineer at the Agency for Planning and Building Services (Plan- og bygningsetaten), City of Oslo.
Foto: Plan- og bygningsetaten, Oslo kommune
What is your job description?
My department is responsible for overall planning at The Agency for Planning and Building Services, and follow up on a number of orders and ambitions from the politicians. The tasks vary, but I generally work with analyses and plans in an overall perspective, often in GIS. Themes could be related to, for example, housing, regulation or mobility. In the process, I often write studies, and report and present my findings.
What is the most exciting thing about your job?
There’s a great deal of interest in how Oslo should be in the future, and it’s exciting and meaningful to play a part in the development. The tasks are often interesting and vary a great deal, and new themes are constantly emerging that I discuss with my colleagues, and learn from. In that sense, the job has strengthened my understanding of the processes and premises that should form the basis of good urban development. I also work a lot with data and attempt to make cool maps, which is fun.
How do you use your education at work?
The most obvious is that I daily use GIS and other methods I learned at Blindern. In addition, there are frequently issues where urban theory is relevant. But most importantly: I think that I’ve developed a “social science way of seeing” during the course of my studies – ways of interpreting, analyzing and assessing things, which is a great asset.
What is a typical day at work?
As a rule, it involves finding a balance between orienting oneself through meetings and correspondence, and concrete task solution, alone or with colleagues. Normally. I also go out of the office for external meetings or professional events, but these days, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I spend most of the time in my home office.
How did you get the job?
It was probably a combination of relevant academic background and work experience, and some luck. During my master’s, I selected several courses related to urban theory, but at the same time, I tried to learn a bit about everything. Learning about different interesting topics, helped on my motivation and probably made me a better student. During my studies I also had a couple of jobs, one of them GIS related. To show that I had worked with an actual GIS project, definitely was an advantage when applying for the job.
What are your best tips to students who are looking for your type of job?
I was quite concerned with being well prepared when I approached the end of my studies and had to start looking for work. I was in contact with Karrieresenteret (The Career Opportunity Center at UiO) several times, and they really helped me seeing the strong points in my CV and to give me confidence when I eventually was called in for job interviews.
Looking back, I also think that it’s important to be attentive and positive about opportunities that arise, and to try to find things that motivate you. Even if something is difficult or boring, it will probably lead to something better later on.