Working in a spatial planning studio in a micro-enterprise in Norway

Working in a spatial planning studio in a micro-enterprise in Norway

Anna took part in an AAU traineeship program in autumn 2017 and went to Bergen in Norway to work in the micro-enterprise Opus based on her interest in spatial planning and BREEAM Communities projects. This experience helped her to determine the direction she wants to follow and where she sees herself in the near future.

How did you establish contact with the micro-enterprise OPUS in Norway?

Once I got a chance to take part in an AAU traineeship program I had to find and contact the company on my own. I wrote an email describing the conditions based on which AAU sends students abroad. I sent an email to the General Manager and to the Administration and Marketing Manager.


Why did you choose to do an internship in that particular company?

I chose to do an internship in Opus as I was mainly interested in BREEAM Communities Projects, which the company was involved into. I was writing my Master’s thesis about the value of urban spaces which are certified under the BREEAM Communities Certification. In Europe there is still only few projects like this, therefore it was interesting for me to get more insight into the project. Besides that, I have always wanted to try working in a spatial planning studio.


Why did you choose to do an internship in Norway?

As I mentioned before, the BREEAM Communities Certification is still rare and there are limited numbers of projects like this in Europe. I have been lucky to find such a project in Bergen. Moreover, I went on a student exchange to Norway back in 2014, so it was exciting to be back in Bergen once again.


What did you work with during your internship?

During my internship, I was mainly doing mobility analyses for different projects using ArcMap. Bergen has the vision to be a 10 minutes walking city - meaning that the main facilities need to be reachable within 10 minutes’ walk. Therefore, it is important for each of the projects to see if the chosen location meets the requirements. Besides that, I was helping with the preparation of urban analyses for a few projects.


What results did you make for the company?

I started to do mobility analyses in ArcMap, which Opus has not been using for this purpose before. However, now Opus is planning to use ArcMap actively as it is an easy, precise and clear way to show the mobility results. I am happy that I could be a part of a small transition in terms of tools that Opus will be using.


What was special for you about working in a micro-enterprise in Norway?

For me it was interesting to work abroad and see how the foreign planning system works. Each city has a different focus and agenda; therefore, it was an enriching experience for me as a student of Sustainable Cities to have a chance to work in a different environment and country. Moreover, it was the first time I had a chance to work in a spatial planning studio.  


What was particularly positive about doing an internship in a micro-enterprise in Norway?

Opus gave me a chance to learn new skills - computer programs such as ArcMap. Moreover, I was glad to have a chance to work with Adobe Systems such as InDesign, as it can be used in many different jobs. Opus was very welcoming and despite language barriers, I felt very comfortable.


What was particularly surprising about doing an internship in a micro-enterprise in Norway?

In micro-enterprises, people might be more helpful to each other as the company is smaller. People who were working at Opus were multitaskers. When there is a small group of people, everybody is more willing to help each other as the atmosphere is more intimate.


Do you have experience from working in a medium/large size business? If so, what do you think was the biggest difference compared to working in a micro-enterprise?

I had a chance to work in Sweco which is a one of the larger European engineering consultancy companies. Working in a large size business has its benefits in terms of the network; for example if the department from one country is struggling with the particular task, they can contact another country’s department to find a solution. But at the same time, when the small size business encounters a challenge, all the coworkers are trying to find the solution, which in my mind bring people together and create a feeling of community.


How has it benefited you to do an internship in a micro-enterprise in Norway, and how can you use it in your future career?

Having an internship at Opus has helped me to establish the direction I want to take and where I see myself in the near future.  I was not sure if working abroad would work out for me. However, it did and I certainly became braver and more eager to try new things. At Opus I met so many passionate people from different fields of work. I built a great network there.


Do you have good advice for others that consider or will be doing an internship in Norway?

I can certainly recommend doing an internship in Norway as it is a place where much is happening in terms of sustainable development. There are many interesting projects and even more to come in the future. Furthermore, I suggest that international students at AAU put a lot of effort into learning Danish, as Norwegian is quite similar and it will definitely be an asset to have.

Do you have good advice for others that consider or will be doing an internship in a micro-enterprise?

I think that both working in a micro-enterprise and a bigger company are enriching and provide valuable experiences. I have an experience from both places. Therefore, I suggest that people apply both small and big companies. Moreover, if you do not receive a reply from a company, I suggest giving them a call or sending a polite reminder email. From my own experience, I know that people, and mostly leaders and managers who receive the applications are extremely busy. Therefore, sending a reminder is not something intrusive.


Would you recommend others to do an internship in a micro-enterprise in Norway? Why/why not?

Norway is a great place where innovative ideas are being developed, and I can recommend doing an internship there. Recently, there are many new startups around the country within different fields of interests. Besides the internship itself, if people are interested in attending additional conferences and workshops I can recommend staying in Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim were most of the sustainable events are taking place.


Anything else you would like to add?

I suggest dedicating any free minute to learn Danish. You never know which place of the world you will end up, therefore learning any foreign language is always beneficial. Because all the Scandinavian languages are more or less similar, Danish is a great background for understanding both Norwegian and Swedish.



Study Programme: Sustainable Cities, AAU Copenhagen, from 2015-2017

Nationality: Polish 

Internship: Opus in Norway in autumn 2017