Jeanette Jansen uses anthropological methodology at NAV.
"My job involves talking to people who have used, are going to use or who are currently using NAV's services," says Jeanette.
NAV wants to develop products and services that are based on both qualitative and quantitative data. Jeanette's main responsibilities involve collecting qualitative data through interviews and short-term fieldwork, as well as disseminating the knowledge that she acquires.
Since qualitative data collection is a slightly newer type of methodology for NAV, Jeanette is also involved in internal training on interviewing techniques and providing assistance when collecting personal data in connection with interviews.
"The most exciting thing about this job is that the knowledge I gain from people can have a direct impact on their lives," says Jeanette.
"It is also quite exciting that members of the entire population of Norway are potential users of NAV’s services. We will all end up using NAV at some point in our lives, e.g. for pensions, child benefits, parental benefits or sickness benefits," she says.
Anthropology at work
Jeanette claims that the education provided by the Department of Social Anthropology is relevant every working day. According to the anthropologist, possessing knowledge and experience of qualitative data collection is essential when talking to people about how they experience using NAV's digital and analogue services.
"The way in which anthropologists view the world is also useful in assisting the organisation in trying to understand which direction we will go in the future. I also keep drawing on the classical anthropology analyses that I learned during my first year at Blindern," she says.
According to Jeanette, concepts such as reciprocity and liminality are useful to have for understanding NAV and the Norwegian welfare state.
"The methodical cultural relativism, ethics and reflexivity that anthropologists include in their conversations with people are also important principles that I have brought from my education to my work," she says.
Passion and practical experience
When Jeanette applied for her job at NAV, she already knew someone who was employed in the relevant department. This gave her the opportunity to learn a bit from someone on the inside about the duties, environment and other matters involved at the workplace.
“I think it is a great advantage to talk to whoever is advertising a job or someone else working for the organisation you are applying to before you write your application. This gives you with a better basis for knowing if it is really somewhere you want to work and provides you with inspiration on how to write a good, incisive application," she says.
Jeanette explains that the interview process consisted of two interviews which were attended by both one of the managers of NAV IT’s Design Department and an employee.
For students seeking a similar type of job, she has three clear pieces of advice:
“Follow your interests while you are studying," says Jeanette.
"It doesn't matter how perfect your CV looks, because it will quickly become evident if you don't have a passion for what you're good at. I wanted to have fun during my studies – and also in my subsequent work – and I wanted to learn more about what I already knew I liked and was interested in. I knew I wanted to become a specialist and I consequently chose subjects and an education to suit my purpose," she says.
“To get a job in design research you need practical experience of qualitative methods. My best tip is therefore to acquire as much practical experience as possible while you’re studying. I chose subjects that gave me exactly that, and when I finished my MA in Social Anthropology I had five fieldwork trips in four different countries behind me and a 1-year course in development studies. This provided me with an opening into working life, because I had both the professional background and the practical experience they were seeking. If I had only had one of these, I wouldn’t have got my first job," says Jeanette.
“It is also important to grasp the opportunities you are presented with. My first job was as a summer intern at a company called Dipper. It was just a temporary 2-month job during the summer holidays, but it developed into a job working for their parent company, Telenor.”