My name is Kristian Noll, and I am currently a junior at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, majoring in Political Science and Norwegian. Over the course of the past several weeks, I have had the unique privilege of being able to intern at the American Chamber of Commerce in Norway (AmCham). As an American student with extensive experience living abroad – including three years in Oslo – the opportunity to return to a place I called home for three years has been extremely exciting. Additionally, working at AmCham has exposed me to an alternate manifestation of international relations: one of international business.
Working at AmCham has truly been a rewarding experience. Not only have I had the privilege of working with smart, friendly, and professional colleagues, but I have been exposed to the fascinating work AmCham does. They are, effectively, a facilitator of international dialogue between businesses, investors, and governments; work that mirrors international diplomacy. The beauty of such work is that it encompasses multiple disciplines, including political science, economics, healthcare, etc. Consequently, a month interning at AmCham has exposed me to developments within numerous industries, ultimately painting a clearer picture of what different careers might look like in practice. By gaining exposure to countless industries, companies, and aspects of international business, I have developed a keen understanding of just how complicated international business is.
My daily tasks varied, which has only served to make this experience more beneficial. I have had the privilege of completing many tasks, including collecting extensive data on business investments in Norway, attending and reporting on various gatherings, contacting member representatives for profiling information, working with wine industry representatives on AmCham’s latest press and industry initiative, and accompanying staff to meetings with members. Through these experiences, I have not only learned much about how businesses respond to global developments, but I have also been able to develop my writing abilities, improve my comfort with analyzing quantitative data, and practice my communication skills, including in Norwegian.
As my time in Norway has now come to an end, I have had time to reflect on the lessons learned from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Over the past month, I have gotten to know the AmCham Norway employees well, learned much about the bilateral Norway-US business climate, had the privilege of attending numerous events spanning different themes, and ultimately explored and refined potential career options. The most important takeaway from this month is that I have a better understanding of myself: what I am interested in, where I want to work, how I can best utilize my skills to make an impact on this world.
Ultimately, there are three main lessons I will take from my AmCham experience. First, my passions lie in international relations and politics. Being on the frontlines of major domestic political developments, namely FrP’s exit from the government and subsequent cabinet reshuffle, was, in my opinion, the most fascinating development I encountered this month.
Second, I have a heightened awareness of sustainability issues. Frequent exposure to the Norwegian “el” approach to life – in which much emphasis is placed on sustainable living – and a political desire to implement greener practices has inspired me; I will return to the United States with a more acute sense of how widespread attention to environmental sustainability can be a reality, even for those concerned about economic progress. It is my hope that I will be able to bring a fresh perspective on environmental issues to my college campus.
Lastly, I have learned that Norway is a place I would love to return to. Although this month has flown by, I will leave Norway with a novel sense of fulfillment. Ultimately, I feel much more comfortable about what steps I should take when I get back to St. Olaf to plan for my future. Moreover, I know that I have a city I would be extremely excited about returning to in the near future. Oslo, takk for nå, og vi sees snart!