What are your plans after graduation?
When asking fellow students at LUSEM, the main impression I receive is that there is a major uncertainty for the plans people have after graduation. While some people are eager to get a job as quickly as possible, some people want to do something else for a while. But what is it actually like to leave Lund and do something else? And what is the value of being part of all that Lund has to offer besides studies? Being locked in the ‘’student bubble’’ that we all live in has personally for me, and for sure also for many other students at LUSEM, resulted in many questions about what actually happens after graduation and one leaves the city of Lund.
Stepping out in working life is something that many people is excited to do, but it sure differs from studying. What should you actually expect? What is it really like on the other side of the hedge?
To get some of my questions answered, I met with Ole Oberste Berghaus. Ole studied at LUSEM a couple of years ago and was also very active within LundaEkonomerna, as he held the position as International Affairs manager in the board of 13-14. After a couple of years in working life, Ole has gone through the process quite recently, and has in other words some knowledge about this area. Just before I left Lund for the summer, I spoke to Ole at Love Coffee Roasters at Klostergatan where we had a chat.
Tell me about your time here in LUSEM. What did you study?
I studied the master’s programme in environmental studies and sustainability science as well as several courses in innovation and spacial dynamics.
What did you gain from your engagement within LundaEkonomerna?
I held the position as International Affairs Manager in the board of 13-14. For me it was a lot about taking up responsibility, being involved in managing people and budgets, and kicking off new ideas and projects. Those three things have made me comfortable in raising own ideas to people who are in charge, and to be proactive and speak up. I have gained that both from my studies at LUSEM and my engagement within Lundaekonomerna.
How important would you, based on your own experience, say that grades and extracurricular activities are in recruitment?
That really depends on the job. A lot of companies ask for good grades and advanced studies, but most of the time they don’t look for the best students but interesting “characters”. However, they don’t write that in the job advertisements. Even though good grades could go hand in hand with being an amazing character, I think that the social skills are more important than the grades, as it is what makes you get the job and perform well when you have received it.
What are you working within now?
I live in Berlin, where I work for a government-owned consultancy. My main task is to work with strategic government projects, such as within digitalization and innovation, and sustainable mobility. Before that, right after graduating from LUSEM, I worked for a consultancy in the same field, but privately owned.
What did the recruitment process look like for your first job?
For my first job, I got asked by a friend if I wouldn’t want to apply, I did, and got hired within two weeks. The company had a sudden shortage of staff, due to a large project. It was a coincidence. For my second and current job – I got called up by a headhunter. Once, I got called by the guy the recruitment process involved sending in a short CV and after that, three interviews- with my future team, the management and the CEO.
I would also like to highlight the importance of working for a nice guy or girl as your boss, maybe not for the first job, but at the latest for the second job. It is very important to have supporting leadership figures to work for – it is pure motivation that might come in handy. Don’t take the job where you get paid the most, but where people are the most supportive. As an example – a supportive leadership was and is very important for me – for pure motivational purposes and as a gay guy – even in liberal Germany.
What have you gained from studying at LUSEM?
I think one of the most important things is the ability to be critical and question things, which is something I learnt at LUSEM, for example by discussions in class and seminars. This is also something that is important when you apply for jobs later on; does it look good, are you being fooled, or is it actually relevant? Is it a smart company that are way ahead of the market? The second thing I learned is – all about systematic thinking, which is very important to understand complex cases. The third thing would be to work with people from different backgrounds. In working life, you will get together with people with a different background than yours. This is something I could get especially from working within Lundaekonomerna and Nations, and a little from the academic side of Lund University. I did my bachelors in Germany and did not get out of the bubble, but achieved this in Lund. You need to be open minded and curious to take in other opinions and value them as high as your own.
If you would give one tip to yourself when you were studying at LUSEM, what would it be?
I think what would have helped me a lot would have been to look for one or two mentors during my master studies. For a short time, Thomas Kalling (former Inspector of Lundaekonomerna) was my mentor, in the end of my studies, but I should have had a mentor earlier. Another aspect would have been to go out on the countryside to reflect about yourself and what you want to do in life. Do that on a regular basis, maybe once every six months. And remember to bring a friend to not to be too lonely!
What are the major differences between studying and working?
Comparing especially studying in Lund and working life, working life is at most times not as flexible as studying. At work, it is expected of you to either be in the office or at a customer although it might not be the more efficient way of doing things. The flexibility of your life goes away a bit.
Are you still in touch with people you met during your time in Lund?
Definitely! I meet with the former vice president Anton (Blidhem, the board of 13/14) whenever I am in Stockholm and I usually spend a weekend every year with Carl-Johan (Stenmalm, former Social Affairs Manager, the board of 13/14) in Stockholm or Berlin. I should visit Niklas (Johannesson, former Corporate Relations Manager, the board of 13/14), we still talk to each other, for example discussing if we should show up at Vinterbalen. It is not that bad with a 45 minutes flight from Berlin to Copenhagen. And just last weekend I visited a former classmate at his parents place in Utrecht, Netherlands. So yes, friendships have stayed, and I appreciate that a lot.
And at last, what are your plans for the future?
As a very prominent Lund University thing, I want to build up an alumni group in Berlin for former students at Lund University, and on the materialistic side, I want to buy an apartment in Berlin, which is relatively expensive if you want to have a nice one. My big vision or purpose that I want to work for is making public administration more digital and smooth, so you don’t need to go to a public office. For example whíth the taxation system in Germany, where you have to calculate all your taxes by yourself. Good government service needs to be hurdle-free, free of friction.
Lots of questions were answered by Ole, and although he does not study in Lund any longer, there are still clear links to to the city. LundaEkonomerna has its own alumni network, Aeternum, for everyone that has been an active member within the organization. Aeternum works as a link between old and current LundaEkonomer, in which you can stay in touch with people that you have met within LundaEkonomerna, for example by different kinds of events. In that way, LundaEkonomerna can still be with you, even though you have left the city of Lund. And even if stepping out in working life is something completely else than studying, the memories will last for a lifetime.