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Copenhagen Business School

Maj juggles political work and master’s studies from Brussels

As the newly elected Secretary General for Young European Socialists, CBS student Maj Jensen is going to work full-time in Brussels while studying for her master’s in Copenhagen. “My calendar and I are very close friends,” she says and gives tips on how to combine a full-time job and studies.

News |   23. Apr 2019

Anne M. Lykkegaard

Journalist

We emailed back and forth about the interview. It wasn’t easy to find a time in Maj Jensen’s schedule for when she’d be in Copenhagen next. It would be impossible after Easter. So we agreed on April 15.

“It takes a lot of scheduling skills to make everything work. But I’m getting the hang of it,” says Maj Jensen and describes her calendar as her “best friend”.

Maj Jensen is finishing her first year of the MSc in Political Communication and Management (PKL) at CBS, and she’s moving to Brussels after Easter for two years to take up a full-time job as the Secretary General in the political organization Young European Socialists (YES), which is official the official youth organization to the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

“I still plan to hand my thesis in on time, but I might need a little more time to finish the last courses. Luckily, I’ve got three years to complete my master’s,” she says.

Maj Jensen got elected as the Secretary General for YES at the end of March. She’s been politically engaged since the age of 15, and has carefully chosen her education to make the best fit for her political work. This includes the BSc in Business Management and Communication (HA. Kom) and the PKL master’s degree at CBS.

“After my bachelor, I worked as the Secretary General for the organization Danish Social Democratic Youth (Danmarks Socialdemokratiske Ungdom- DSU) for two years before returning to CBS for the master’s degree. I was longing for books, and it proved to be a good match as PKL gives me the theoretical foundation for my work,” she says.

I hadn’t thought much about politics, but when I talked to the candidates I could see that they actually tried to do something, change things.

Maj Jensen

However, when she started her master’s in September 2018, she knew there was a chance of getting elected as the Secretary General. So she started to plan her studies carefully.

“I studied the rules for completing a master’s degree. You have to hand in a thesis after two years, but you have three years to complete it. And then I did a schedule for all of the semesters with courses and how many ECTS points I could get each semester,” she says and goes into a thorough explanation of how she can transfer ECTS points from an additional elective this semester to the next semester, thereby allowing more time for work.

“The first year of work is always crazy, so I wanted to make it a little easier for myself,” she says.

Ready to retire from politics?

When Maj Jensen was 15 years old, she did a one-week internship at a small local newspaper. That week coincided with the municipal election, and she got to talk to several of the candidates in her area outside Randers. And this sparked something in the young Maj Jensen.

“I hadn’t thought much about politics, but when I talked to the candidates I could see that they actually tried to do something, change things. That really triggered something in me,” she says.

Shortly after, Maj Jensen joined DSU where she advanced over the years, taking up positions such as the national Vice President and the Secretary General. But she never expected a future job in politics; she found that she’d rather handle the communication around it.

“I came to the decision not to pursue the dream of becoming a journalist, but I still thought that communication had something to it,” she says and began her bachelor studies in 2011.

You can’t get straight As at school and in your work. I had come to terms with some of my grades not being as good as I wanted them to be

Maj Jensen

Maj Jensen was still engaged in DSU during her bachelor; however, it wasn’t quite enough. She applied for an internship for the EU parliamentarian Christel Schaldemose, and continued working for DSU for two years after her bachelors. At that time, Maj Jensen thought she was ready to retire from politics when an opportunity came up.

“It was March 2018 when I applied for the PKL master’s, but at the same time I was recommended to run for the position as the Secretary General at YES. I really wanted to go back to books, but on the other hand, this position would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she says.

When work and studies come together  

So how will Maj Jensen do group work and attend lecturers while living in Brussels?

“Luckily, I’m doing a group project at the moment with two other students who have full-time jobs in Denmark and Norway. We Skype every 10 days and delegate the workload between us,” she says and explains that she has looked into different electives that are 100 percent online.

Maj Jensen has only been Secretary General for two weeks, so it’s hard to say if her planned studies match the workload of the job. But she recommends taking on a job that has the potential to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if it combines well with studies.

“Do something that’s a lot of fun and that you don’t want to miss out on. And then make sure that you combine your own interests, whether they’re work-related or not, with your studies. It makes exams a lot easier if they coincide with your own interests. Think about how the assignments can make sense to you,” she says.

And then she has some advice for students who want to work and study full-time.

“Adjust your expectations. You can’t get straight As at school and in your work. I had to think about this a lot, and come to terms with some of my grades not being as good as I wanted them to be. But don’t be sad about it. You’ll get so much more out of it in the long-run,” she says.

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