What kind of industry is your company/organisation a part of?
What type of tasks do you perform?
Counseling and teaching within subjects such as making a CV and cover letter, competence clarification, job interview etc. I am also project manager of the Young Professionals in Denmark – a project that helps international students/graduates and Danish companies find each other. This is a national project and many partners, both private and public, are involved. I have always had an interest in working with internationals.
What has your career path looked like until now?
After studying English for three years, I was certain I did not want to become a teacher in English, and I started studying psychology. I found this VERY fascinating, and I realized that I wanted to work in a field where I could use psychology AND English. My plan was to work in an international company in their HR department, however, because I did not have any HR experience or much knowledge about this area I took evening classes in labour law, personel administration etc. for the last two years of my education. In addition to that, I focused on confict management etc in my psychology classes. At that time, I do not remember that it was a possibility to do an internship in a company. I did not have a study relevant job, so in that sense I did not follow my own recommendations of finding relevant work experience to my students in my current job as career counselor.
I also had my first child while studying so day and evening classes were a bit challenging with a newborn, however, I knew I had to show a more clear path of my employment wishes, and thus I prioritized the evening classes. When graduating in 2003, I was unemployed like many of the graduates within Humanities – we knew it was difficult, however, I was certain that at some point I would get a job. I had a temporary job, putting customer info into a system – very boring but it meant salary for 3 months :-)
Very quickly after graduating, I got pregnant with my second child. My husband and I thought we might as well get these pregnancies "over and done" as we were hoping I would be more attractive to an employer if I had two children already and minimizing the cost for a company if I had to go on maternity leave. When my youngest was 6 months, I was actually offered 6 months temporary job at the Faculty of Humanities – my little sister worked there as a student assistant, and she used her connections to recommend me to the job... connections, connections. A person was on sick leave, and I had to take different assignments such as translation (not my favorite task…but there is often some tasks in a job that you do not like), making overviews of funded projects at the different study departments etc. This job lead me to a subsidized job at the Fundraising Office at AAU Innovation. After only a couple of months, I got a fulltime job at SEA (Supporting Entrepreneurship at AAU), also at AAU Innovation. Because I had been willing to take a subsidized job, colleagues in the office next door noticed me, and I was hired.
In this job, I worked with planning events within the field of innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting our students in their job/dream of becoming an entrepreneur. I very much like this job, as I was good at organizing, showing initiative, and having the close contact with students. After a couple of years I landed a job at AAU Career – a job I really love as I once again can use my skills of counseling students, facilitating events etc. I actually think that I am doing a lot of the work many HR people are doing – I give feedback to students' CV, prepare them for job interview, help them on their way of acknowledging their worth and skills. I have been working here for about 10 years, and I still love it.
What is your typical workday like?
I primary work on assignments that include our international students at AAU. I have both hours in front of my computer, planning events, making career related advise on our website, but also, Skype or physical meeting with students, going to company visits etc. I help students and companies match each other. It is not enough only to send a job position to a student, as the student often needs to understand the job ad, investigate what the company is working on, future projects etc., and my job is to guide and make the student reflect. In my job, I also have contact with fellow colleagues in the different universities in Denmark, and we assist each other and develop seminars of knowledge.
What is the best thing about your job?
I have a lot of personal contact with students – they are not only a number, but I hear their stories and help them understand what they want and where they are going. I also really like the great possibilities of being able to develop my tasks – of course in acceptance with my boss. However, I can use my creative mindset and come up with news projects/events. Today, I recorded a dialogue between myself and a HR partner working in an international company, and we are talking about the questions you will be asked at a job interview – how you can prepare. This was a lot of fun, and the first time I did this kind of virtual counseling.
What have you done with your degree and competencies from AAU?
I use my general competences of being able to dig into a topic, find a solution and carry it out. I use my English skills and intercultural understanding when meeting students from all over the world. I also use some of my psychology knowledge of how people interact and react, however, my people skills are also very much part of me as a person as I have always been very social and interested in other people.
What made you want to study in Denmark, and why did you choose AAU?
To be honest, I chose AAU because I had worked as an au pair in US for a year and liked the language – AAU gave me the possibility to explore English, the English cultures around the world etc. I did not know what I wanted to do with my education, but I still knew I wanted to study at AAU.
What made you choose your specific programme, and would you have chosen different today?
I liked English and psychology – if I had been aware of how interesting psychology was I would have studied to be a psychologist or the more specific Human Resource management educations.
What are the best memories from your years at AAU?
It is very much the group work, that I found very inspiring. 2-5 people put together in a group is always interesting – you really learn how to make yourself understandable and communicate. And, I loved the social part – some of my close friends are from my project works.
What were your dreams for the future when you graduated?
To work in an international company in their HR department. However, I quickly learned that there were not that many companies with an international profile in Northern Jutland, and since I had a family in Aalborg, I started looking for other jobs.
What are your current dreams for the future?
To keep doing a good job for our international students, to develop myself within the fields of career counseling – maybe be able to use a bit more of the psychology aspects.
Your best career advice for students and newly graduates?
The road to my present job has been a very roundabout road, and this is very normal, especially with the humanities. Students and graduates should not assume that a specific course, master or first job defines the rest of their career. Keep calm and accept that you cannot control the uncertainty, and what will happen every step of the way. You can of course try to paint your own picture – meaning that you can search for knowledge, experience and network, in order for you to have a clear picture of what you like to work with and to whom you can talk. There are so many exciting events, in which I strongly encourage both internationals and Danes to participate.
What does it mean to you that AAU still has an interest in you after your graduation?
I really like that I can still be of use to current students and graduates based on my education and work experience. I have been a mentor three times and it was very beneficial for both my mentees and myself.
About Lotte Burholt Pedersen
Programme at AAU: Master in English and psychology
Faculty at AAU: The Faculty of Humanities
Campus at AAU: Aalborg
Year of graduation: 2003
Age and place of birth: 1976, Brønderslev
Current employment: Career consultant at AAU Career