WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL WORKDAY LIKE?
At the moment, I am working on an art task on an X-ray department at Holbæk Regonshospital. So right now, I am gathering materials such as cardboard, paint etc. which I need to solve this task. That is actually a part of my job, running around looking for stuff, I can use to solve the different tasks. My tasks are diverse. Some of them are very analytic, whereas some are very practical. One part of my job consists in inspecting hospital wards and waiting rooms and come up with solutions to how they can be redecorated, in order for the rooms to seem more welcoming to the patients and their families. The other part of my job is to implement the design solutions I come up with. I cannot do design solutions that fit and are successful without user processes. In fact, users and other kinds of professions and collaborators are an important part of my workday. Besides that, I also conduct research, do presentations and arrange workshops. Lastly, I also participate in different architecture contests, where I attempt to contribute with my knowledge. Whatever I do, it is always centred around the relation between human and the surrounding space.
WHAT HAS YOUR CAREER PATH LOOKED LIKE UP UNTIL NOW?
As I have started my own company, I find myself in the private sector. When I finished my PhD I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was hard for me to put the knowledge I obtain during my PhD into “the real world”. At the same time, I was certain that I would not stay at the university, because I was determined to put my knowledge into practice. Because of my cross-functional background [as a nurse, an architect and now a PhD], it was hard for me to find a job or place where I could fit in. However, I started to get different tasks and ended up starting my own practice. This suits me well, as I can create the job I want. It is both fun and frustrating to run your own one-man business. When you do not have any tasks to solve you are a bit vulnerable, but when you are working on something, it is the best feeling in the world!
HOW CLOSE IS YOUR CURRENT CAREER TO THE IDEAS AND DREAMS YOU HAD AS A PHD FELLOW AT AAU?
Given my educational background as both a nurse, architect and now PhD, I would say that the tasks I manage are pretty close to what I imagined. But, I didn’t really imagine that I would become an entrepreneur. I was pretty sure that a company would have a job for me, but I guess it was hard for other people to see how they could use my competences – or maybe I was not able to put those competences into words?
HOW HAVE YOU MADE USE OF YOUR PHD EDUCATION, AND WHICH OF YOUR PHD COMPETENCES HAVE BEEN MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
My PhD competences are crucial for me, when I have to sell my services. In my PhD I examined how the decoration of hospital rooms effects the care and treatment of patients. However, it was hard for me to communicate with doctors about these factors. Instead, I chose to do a part of my PhD on the basis of biostatistical methods of testing rooms, as it seemed to me that it was easier for doctors to relate to this. So, you could say that my PhD, to the greatest extent possible, has provided me with an ability to communicate and being taken seriously when I talk with medical staff when talking about the effects of decoration, interior design and so forth.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST FROM YOUR PHD STUDIES?
I look back at my PhD-time through rose-colored glasses. For me, it was three years where I felt everything was in perfect control. While doing my PhD I also had to take care of four small children. But actually, writing a PhD harmonies quite well with taking care of your family. You have a lot of flexibility when being a PhD fellow.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST MEMORY FROM AAU?
I think the most motivating memory was to experience how a university works compared to for instance an architecture school. I was actually surprised by Aalborg University’s openness towards how things can be solved in different ways, where I sometimes felt that the architecture school had a unified way of doing things. That was a very positive experience. It was a good place and a good time for me and I am still in contact with many of the people from AAU.
WHAT MADE THE STRONGEST IMPRESSION ON YOU DURING YOUR PHD DEFENSE?
I think the strongest impression was the PhD committee. They were all extremely kind to me.
My PhD defense was a good experience and a good way to round off my time as a PhD fellow.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO A PHD, AND WOULD YOU HAVE CHOSEN DIFFERENTLY IF YOU WERE TO DO IT TODAY?
Not at all – I would do a PhD again, if I got the opportunity! It was a unique way of getting the time and possibility to concentrate on one specific topic.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO CURRENT PHD FELLOWS AT AAU THAT WANT A CAREER OUTSIDE ACADEMIA?
You need to allow yourself to take the time to learn how to use the things you have done during your time as PhD fellow. Sometimes, it takes time to convert your knowledge into practice. I would say that the best way to learn to do that is just to try and go for it.
WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE?
Of course, to get my business rolling and being autonomous and viable is one of my biggest dreams. Right now, I put a lot of effort into landing different tasks, and I am looking forward to my company is more consolidated. I am part of many exciting corporations, solving important tasks and I know my competences are needed in many different places. So I am very optimistic about the future!
ABOUT Mette Blicher folmer
Place of birth: Give
Current employment: Owner FOLMER studio ApS
MA programme and university: Nurse at Odense sygeplejeskole and Arkitekt at Arkitektskolen I Aarhus
Department at AAU: Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology
Campus: City Aalborg
Year of graduation: 2014
Title of PhD dissertation: HELENDE ARKITEKTUR ’Rum og interaktion’