Advisor

Markus Vetrhus is an advisor for the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus, and is about to take up a trainee position in planning and project management with Jernbaneverket, the Norwegian government’s agency for railway services.

Markus Vetrhus believes it is important to seize the available opportunities for gaining experience and making contacts outside the university.

How did you get your current job?

I got the job through an ordinary application and interview process. I started in a temporary position in June 2016, and was offered a permanent position after about six months.

 

Why do you think they chose you for the job?

While working on my thesis I learned about the planning system, the County Governor's role in planning matters, key steering documents and the statutory framework. This knowledge was probably one of the main reasons I was offered the job. In addition, I had previously had part-time jobs within the field. Alongside the thesis I wrote a traffic plan for the Østensjø district and spent some time as a research assistant at the Institute of Transport Economics. My employer no doubt also viewed this experience as valuable.

 

What are your main duties?

The County Governor of Oslo and Akershus gives opinions on all planning proposals submitted for consultation in the two counties. I am responsible for writing consultation statements on planning matters on behalf of the environmental protection department in ten of the municipalities in Akershus. The statements are written from the perspective of the County Governor's role as sector authority and manager of government policies on land use planning. In the municipalities I cover, the issues related to the coordination of housing, land use and transport planning are particularly applicable. The County Governor also has the authority to forward objections to planning proposals, which means that I spend part of my time in dialogue and mediation meetings with local authorities and other involved parties.

 

What are you working on just now?

The County Governor of Oslo and Akershus gives opinions on all planning proposals submitted for consultation in the two counties. I am responsible for writing consultation statements on planning matters on behalf of the environmental protection department in ten of the municipalities in Akershus. The statements are written from the perspective of the County Governor's role as sector authority and manager of government policies on land use planning. In the municipalities I cover, the issues related to the coordination of housing, land use and transport planning are particularly applicable. The County Governor also has the authority to forward objections to planning proposals, which means that I spend part of my time in dialogue and mediation meetings with local authorities and other involved parties.

 

How do you apply your qualifications from the Department of Sociology and Human Geography in your work?

In my job I often need to assess plans that involve major conflicts of interest and complex issues. Through my education at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography I have learned to gather and analyze relevant information, write structured texts, argue and explain viewpoints thoroughly and be critical of my own conclusions. Such fundamental qualities – which are gained from a social science education – are essential in the work of a bureaucrat and executive officer.

Through my specialization in urban geography, I learned about many relevant topics in the planning field. I gained, for example, a better understanding of how power and knowledge are intertwined in the political planning system. This made me realize that there is very rarely one right answer to land use questions, and led me to recognize that decisions are generally value-based and build on expertise to vastly different degrees. This knowledge is important for understanding the political processes that are applicable in my job. Although it is frustrating that scientifically-based assessments are sometimes rejected, it is also very exciting to work within a political system.

 

What is your top tip for students who want to be attractive in the job market?

The most important thing is to seize the opportunities that are available to gain experience and contacts outside the university. I think, for example, it is prudent to connect with external experts when writing the thesis. When choosing an area of specialization and the topic of the thesis it is vital to choose something you find interesting. This ensures that you are committed and motivated to carry out the work. After that, try to find out how the subject area can be linked to specific fields of work so that you can show relevant employers what skills you have acquired. 

Published Aug. 18, 2016 12:45 PM - Last modified Sep. 1, 2016 10:21 AM