Land use planner
Simon Friis Mortensen is a land use planner with Vestby municipality. Working in a small department allows him to participate in all aspects of planning processes.
Simon Friis Mortensen believes the interest he showed for the field outside of his studies helped secure him the job.
How did you get your current job?
I got the job following a normal recruitment process with application and interview.
I started looking for jobs about a month before I submitted my master’s thesis, and searching for a ‘proper’ job was a completely new experience for me.
In order to chart my competences, and to improve my application writing skills, I did the Career Services’ job seeker course and made use of the CV and application check. This was a big help to me, and I would strongly recommend that other new graduates take advantage of these offers.
Altogether, I applied for a handful of positions in municipal and regional planning, and was invited to a number of interviews. I was offered the job in Vestby municipality within a month of graduating.
Why do you think they chose you for the job?
I noticed as a general rule in the job application processes that human geographers have competences that are in demand in the job market.
My position is a temporary position for eighteen months, and I am covering for another human geographer who also studied at the University of Oslo. I therefore believe that the employer’s knowledge of the education and competences we possess played a significant role in the recruitment process.
The work experience I gained in parallel with my studies, and my involvement in voluntary projects relevant to my studies, were also important determining factors in getting the job.
I therefore believe that my work experience as a seminar leader and disputation assistant at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, as well as my involvement in a European project for young planners, was crucial to securing the job.
In general, I think that while good grades can help get you an interview, it is your personal qualities and your commitment that determine whether you get offered a job or not.
What are your main duties?
The planning department’s main tasks are to process and implement private and municipal plans for land use in accordance with the Planning and Building Act.
As we are a small department, I am involved in all parts of the planning process. This means I have a varied workload, and gives me considerable responsibility. My work entails inter alia processing planning cases, analysis, map production, participation in site inspections and contact with ‘clients’.
What are you working on just now?
At the moment, I am spending a lot of time on a major urban centre plan for Vestby. This work is relatively complex and will be ongoing for some time. Much of the time will be spent conducting analyses and collecting information. Right now, I’m working on a draft proposal for the politicians, which includes an assessment of the most suitable type of architectural competition for a centre plan.
Parallel to this, I am involved in finalizing the digitization of children’s footstep registrations carried out at kindergartens in Vestby. This work is also part of the analysis that will form the basis for the regulation of Vestby centre.
How do you apply your qualifications from the Department of Sociology and Human Geography in your work?
The subjects in urban human geography have given me analytical tools to understand how overarching social processes affect planning and urban development in Norway.
The political understanding that a social science master’s degree provides has also stood me in good stead for dealing with the political processes in which we operate and plan.
I use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) on a daily basis, and I feel that the introductory course in GIS in human geography has given me a good basis for this work.
Finally, the general competences that a social science master’s degree provides are particularly important. Good writing skills, an analytical mind and a flair for critical assessment in particular are all essential attributes that have been invaluable to my work in the planning department.
What is your top tip for students who want to be attractive in the job market?
My top tip is to show passion for the field outside of your studies. This can be done in a number of ways, such as relevant work during your study period, specialist projects and involvement in associations etc. This enables students to use their skills in a more practical way than at the University, and the network and references that are garnered through this work are a precious commodity in the job market.
Meanwhile, I think that it is important to structure the master’s degree in such a way that the strongest focus is on a specialist field or an area of work. This can be done through the choice of courses and the topic of the thesis. In my experience, choosing an interesting and relevant topic for the thesis will aid the process of gaining a foothold in the job market.