Janne Højmark Mønster is an officer at Udviklings- og Forenklingsstyrelsen. She graduated from Aarhus University, Department of Physics and Astronomy, with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and a Master’s degree in Astronomy.

Please give a short description of the work you do in your current position.

I help build a data warehouse that sufficiently stores large amounts of data coming from various systems. This includes extracting the data needed, transforming it to match the data model setup in the data warehouse, and building tables that display data optimally for our users’ needs. The job includes both developing new solutions but also managing and operating the existing data solutions on a daily basis.    

How do you use the skills you learned as a physicist or engineer in your work?

Physics generally gives a solid understanding of how to solve any problem that is presented to you. I use this subconsciously every day at work. Additionally, I have learned to work with large amounts of data through my astronomy years. This includes both loading data and manipulating it to fit a specific purpose. I learned how to get to know the data you are working with, simplify the data to only contain what is needed, find outliers, recognize common mistakes and debug a program.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the public sector?

I would not say that I specifically pursued a career in the public sector. I mainly just wanted to make use of the skills I obtained during my studies. More specifically, I wanted to work with large amounts of data, seeing as I got a kick out of finally solving that one little annoying issue that made all the data behave the way I wanted it to. I found this job post and I felt like this job would fit me rather than me having to fit into the job. The interview required me to do a test case which I had a lot of fun with, confirming my decision to pursue the job. So I took the plunge and moved to Copenhagen for it.

What motivated you to study physics or engineering in the first place?

I was a really annoying kid because I would answer anything with a “why?”. That curiosity followed me around all these years. I was a bit unorthodox, because physics was my weakest subject in school, so naturally I was determined to learn it because I did not understand it. Astronomy was just this huge world of weird things I had never heard of (let alone seen), and the mystery and crazy physics made it disorienting in a way that felt captivating to me. I could not let go of it once I started. 

What advice would you give to young people (in particular women and minorities) who would like to pursue a career in the private industry

Right now, even though my job has absolutely nothing to do with astronomy (except for the excessive amounts of data), I am so happy I got this job because it has proven to be just as exciting in so many ways, and there is so much stuff to learn. I thoroughly enjoy watching people make use of my work every day. So my point is that you need to keep an open mind and not be afraid to dive into deep water, because in my experience people will be there to help you learn how to swim in it. My other advice is to not waste too much time agonizing over finding the perfect job for you. This stuff takes time, so better to just enjoy the ride getting there.