Kjersti Visnes Øksenhold works as a research geographer at the Institute of Transport Economics
Photo: Tove Lauluten
How did you get your current job?
My main supervisor for my master thesis was from the Institute for Transport Economics (TØI) and I was given a desk at the institute while I wrote my master thesis. This helped me to become acquainted with the staff at that department and in being employed as a research assistant on some of the institute's projects. After I had finished my master thesis I sent an open job application to the institute and was subsequently called in for an interview.
Why do you think they chose you for the job?
It was due to my previous work experience (including a summer job at the Directorate of Public Roads and various tasks as a research assistant at TØI), and that I was already acquainted with many employees at the institute, both socially and professionally. I had already proven that I could competently complete work assignments before I was recruited into a permanent postion. I had also expertise from a relevant educational background that the institute had a need for at that time, and I fitted in socially. I believe I was seen to be a good choice.
What are your main duties?
I work in the research group "urban development and urban transport". We conduct research on institutions and on organisation, planning and decision-making processes. Additionally, we look at how one implements change and the forms of development one employs produce different results, consequences and goal achievement. I am especially interested city centre development, and have worked on several projects related to this.
What are you working on right now?
One of the big advantages of my job is that the work is varied, and that I can work on several projects simultaneously. Some projects are large and take several years, with funding from the Norwegian Research Council or elsewhere, while other projects are shorter commissioned pojects for any of a number of clients. Right now I am working on a project that is building a knowledge base for area and transport development for climate friendly, attractive, vibrant cities. It is a project that will explore how public transport can become more competitive, and which studies the effects of situating housing and work places close on choice of transport type and distance travelled by residents and commuters. The project explores how authorities can develop self-contained self-sufficient residential areas with little dependence upon cars.
How do you apply your qualifications from the Department of Sociology and Human Geography in your work?
I work in a inter-disciplinary department, with engineers, economists, geographers, sociologists, political scientists and planners, and our projects are largely based upon inter-disciplinary research. Working in this manner can be challenging, but it is also enjoyable and rewarding, and produces a better final result. As I am attached to the 'urban development and transport' group I am able to use my knowledge gained from my time as a student, in particular on urbanism.
What is your top tip for students who want to be attractive in the job market?
Gain relevant work experience while you are studying, whether from a summer job, part-time work, or more project-based experience as a scientific assistant. The fact that you can refer to specific and relevant projects and/or publications you have worked with is highly positive. Furthermore, networking is important and smart. Attend events where you can meet like-minded people, and do not be afraid to contact participants to discuss and make yourself known in the relevant community. Make an effort to take extra courses or take a positions in a relevant organization; this shows that you are dedicated and want to learn more and contribute to your chosen field.