Tell me a little about yourself.
After high school I studied natural sciences at the University of Bergen, with molecular biology as my major. After a while I ended my studies there to pursue a degree at the Norwegian Dance College and took a bachelor's in dance with pedadgogy. I worked as a dancer and dance teacher for a few years but eventually I wanted a more secure and predictable job. Since I've always had an interest in food, it was easy to choose food science at NMBU. I started the master's program in August 2017.
How did you become interested in dairy technology – why did you take your master's with this group?
I became interested in dairy technology during the first basic dairy course, "Milk and milk processing". I also really liked learning more about milk and how you can treat milk to make different products, like cheese and yoghurt, in the more advanced courses. You need good knowledge about microbiology, with regards to spoilage of dairy products, but also how you can use certain microorganisms to your advantage during fermentation.
Can you tell me a little about your master's thesis?
In my master's thesis I examined the prevalence of clinically significant antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the aquatic environment. There are some knowledge gaps as to how widespread antibiotic resistance is in the environment and its potential to spread to the food chain. It was really exciting to write about something that relevant.
What are you doing now? Can you tell me about your journey here?
Today I work as a trainee in TINE SA. While I was finishing my studies at NMBU I knew that I really wanted to work at TINE, in part because I wanted to work with dairy products and in part because TINE is a cooperative that is owned by milk farmers. So, you work every day to give milk farmers the best possible price for the cooperative's milk products.
In my job as trainee I get to work in different departments, which gives me insight into how the value chain is connected, from farm to food store. Since TINE has the full value chain it is a complex organization, and I feel lucky to have a job that allows me to work in different departments. Right now, I am working in the department of food safety and quality, but before that I was working six months in production at the dairy plant in Oslo.
What was the transition from student to working life like for you? How did your master's degree prepare you for the job you have today?
The transition has been great, even though I still have a lot to learn. The master's degree has given me a solid foundation, and it has helped me to feel confident that I have a lot to offer at my workplace. At the same time, it is good to build off of, now that I am learning even more while working.
If you hadn't started at TINE SA, what else could you have considered?
I think I would have enjoyed a lot of different jobs as long as I got to work with food and food production. However, I am interested in sustainability, for example seen from a geographic perspective, and I like to work with how we can use our resources in Norway in the best possible way.
Do you have any tips or advice to give to a student about study direction or master’s program?
Choose something that you like and that excites you! It helps when you reach those tougher periods during the course of your studies. And select a variety of courses. Then you will more easily see what you like, and you can connect with different professors and lecturers.
What about tips as far as a career further down the line?
In the last semester of my master's degree I applied for a wide selection of jobs and for far more positions than what I was qualified for. Limitations come naturally, so you don't need to avoid applying for a job just because you don't think you're going to get it. And start early.
Can you say something about career options for people with your educational background in Norway?
My experience is that there are good career opportunities when you have a master's in food science, as there are many food companies in Norway. Everything from working in production with different food manufacturers, to being a product developer, to working with quality.
- Interview edited for clarity and length.