Ellen Sofie Søndergaard Bargholz is a Senior Network Engineer at Norlys. She graduated from DTU with a MSc in Photonics in 2017.

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

In my current position I have a dual role: Part engineer and part project manager, and the combination works well for me. In the engineering part, I get to use my knowledge as an engineer, working with optical fibers, lasers, amplifiers etc. After my graduation, I have taken courses in project management, and I am now certified in project management. It is a lot of fun working with project management, and I meet exciting challenges using my management skills.

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

I use my skills in the engineering assignments, where I work with optical fibers. The skills I mainly use are my background knowledge of optical fibers, as well as the toolbox that deals with good scientific methods for judging products.

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

I think the question should be asked the other way around – why did you not become a researcher? And here the answer is simple. I was simply not skilled enough, and it sounds like a very hard job – constantly having to apply for funding for projects.

I have a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Copenhagen (KU), and it was a bit of a coincidence that I landed there. I had applied to DTU Nano as my first priority, but my grades were not high enough. Physics at KU was my second priority. At KU I took courses in optics and completely fell in love with the subject, but I could see that when I had to apply for a job after graduation, it would be easier for the future employer to understand what a civil engineer can do than what a physicist can do. That is why I studied for a master’s degree in Photonics at DTU. Here, I immersed myself in everything with telecommunications and completely fell for the subject.

When writing my master thesis, I saw a job opening at Stofa where they were looking for engineers, and the job was in Aarhus. I immediately applied and got the job.

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

I have had good physics teachers in both boarding school and high school. They gave me confidence in the subject. They aroused my interests. It is quite clearly their merit that I LOVE optics, lasers and optical fibers!

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

It’s a man’s world – at least still for a while – but hopefully we are changing this. State your opinion. You are not responsible for the good mood. Learn to say no.

I also would like to recommend the podcast Karrierekvinder. It gave me a confidence boost as the only woman in a department dominated by men.