After finishing the Bachelor’s programme in conservation of built environment, he considered getting a job. But a Master’s in conservation seemed tempting, and today he doesn’t regret his choice.
‘That’s when it all came together,’ says Axel Demker.
‘If the first three years were about packing in knowledge, the Master’s programme helped us understand what we had learned and move on to the next step,’ says Demker.
Demker is from Gothenburg and enrolled at the university fresh out of school. After obtaining a BSc in conservation of built environments, he did not know whether he should start working or pursue a Master’s degree. He applied for a few jobs but soon decided to go back to school.
SINCE THE MASTER’S PROGRAMME in conservation grants the students a great deal of freedom, he studied sociology for one semester as he felt it would help him widen his perspective.
‘The Master’s programme really becomes what you make it,’ he says.
After graduating, he was hired as a building permit administrator in the municipality of Sala in Sweden – a job he feels is a great experience and an opportunity to work close to where decisions are made. His job is to assess applications for building permits from individuals who want to modify their homes in some way. In contrast to his colleagues, whose backgrounds are generally more technical, Demker assesses the applications from an aesthetical and cultural-historical perspective. This implies that he needs a good ability to communicate and motivate the assessments made, both to the politicians in the town planning committee, who make the final decisions, and to the applicants.
‘It’s easy to understand why a certain building material will work better than another, but when I recommend that a window should be moved, the reason is not always obvious.’
SEVERAL OF DEMKER’S former classmates also work as building permit administrators.
‘It’s a bit of a new area for us, and I think it’s a good thing. This occupation has always been dominated by engineers, but I feel conservators can add an important dimension.’
Besides the benefits in terms of personal development, Demker feels the Master’s programme has increased his chances of landing a qualified and interesting job. It has also helped him gain respect from other professional groups, and he has noticed a certain income difference compared with those who only have a Bachelor’s degree.
‘Our career opportunities are pretty broad, especially if we are willing to move.’
DEMKER DOESN’T KNOW what the future holds. He sees his job in Sala as a perfect opportunity to learn more about exercise of public authority and the role of a public servant – knowledge he did not get in school.
‘I enjoy working with real building matters and community planning, and I like being close to where decisions are made. I’m very grateful for being where I am today.’