Days two-five: Working at DONG Energy

Wow this is a cool company and a cool country. Its been a really exciting couple of days full of walking and work and waking up to the blazing sun at 3am.

Quick hits:

  • there is no obvious pecking order at work
  • everyone shares tables and desks (and they’re the cool desks that have motors so you can stand and work if you don’t want to sit)
  • everyone eats together and lunch is free
  • no one knows what a sorority is and it is very hard to explain
  • the architecture at this company is insanely beautiful
  • tattoos are everywhere
  • full service coffee machines are all over the office
  • people wear Birkenstocks to work
  • not learning the metric system from birth is so inconvenient for the rest of the world



On Sunday I was lucky enough to spend the day getting to know my coworkers at DONG Energy on the company’s dime. The gardens are located right next to my hotel and they are absolutely adorable. Tivoli is a mini, more clean, more charming, Disneyland. It makes perfect sense that Tivoli was the main park that walt disney drew inspiration from to create Disneyland.


The rides were nothing short of super lame and extremely cute. We sat down for a lunch that was too pretty to eat. Strawberries are a big deal here in the summer and apart from root vegetables, they are one of the very few kinds of produce that can grow here.


On Monday one of my coworkers was nice enough to come and pick me up on his way to the office so I would know the way. The Gentofte office of DONG is the main building they have in copenhagen and it houses the CEO and from what I can tell most of the development. The building is almost a greenhouse, with trees, glass ceilings, small pools everywhere. The Viriam office is less pretty, still modern and illuminated by natural light. This morning I got a little lost on my way to work and had to spend an hour on the metro correcting my error. Although the office is in Viram, you have to take the Jæsborg exit to get there, even though there is a train exit that SAYS VIRIAM. Whatever, I made it to work, I just took a little scenic detour.


What struck me more than the architecture was the nature of the office space itself. No one, not even the CEO, has an office. Everyone sits at tables in an open room. The desks are assigned but there are no walls, no clear partitions. The team lead poked fun at the American way of having walls everywhere in the office. Honestly, he’s not wrong.


When there is such an open structure like this, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to tell who is in charge of who. Who is the boss? What is the pecking order? I AM AN AMERICAN. I NEED TO KNOW WHO TO BE AFRAID OF. Honestly though, it is very admirable the way in which everyone is given equal respect, and I much prefer this open style of working. I know who hired me, obviously, and I know she is very busy, so I assume she is in a relatively high position within the company. Other than my boss, however, I have no idea who my immediate boss is, or what levels of authority everyone is on. I am sure the longer I work here I will have a better understanding, but as of right now I am enjoying thinking everyone is important because everyone in this world really is important, regardless of title or pay.

everyone gets a desk with a motor so you can stand up and type!! the coolest!

My work here is currently very vague. Because I am an “external consultant” and my internship is unpaid, its the immediate supervisor that hired me that has the ability to assign me work. My boss is interested in hearing a fresh perspective, and knows my interests in clean energy coupled with GIS, but has yet to decide what she wants me to be doing. I have a pretty clear list of objectives for what I hope to gain from this internship and until I have a specific task I am getting an education on how the company works, what kind of technology is being used in the generation and distribution of clean energy, and how GIS is used to tackle some of the issues the company faces. From what I have learned, I am thoroughly impressed.

An issue I have encountered here is work dress. People are wearing Birkenstocks and shorts. BIRKENSTOCKS. Being the naive and ever prepared boy scout I brought heeled work shoes, slacks, blouses, and sweaters all coordinated from ann taylor. Little did I know I would be on par with the actual business men of the company. Programmers and scientists here wear t-shirts and jeans. Although the first two days were a little embarrassing, and my blisters are horrific, I just feel the worst for my generous mother, who bought all of these nice sweaters and blouses from ann taylor that weren’t really necessary. If anything I can dress down the blouses with jeans. The heels will go into my suitcase and never return.

before i showed up to the office and looked like a total DOINKER

After work this Monday and Tuesday I have walked the city. If I wasn’t thoroughly stretching each night I would have terrible shin splints. As a matter of fact DONG Energy is having a stretching campaign going on right now, and in general is obsessed with safety, health, and well being of their employees. I, an undergraduate intern, get complete health care out here.

we get in trouble if we don’t hold onto the handrails…



I am provided breakfast at the hotel and work (yay) They really like their cheese and dairy here. Half the time they just put a hunk of cheese onto a piece on untoasted bread. My hotel has oranges and they are actually really good so that is a major treat. I love rye bread so thats an added bonus because I’m pretty sure its the national source of carbs here.

DONG Energy provides lunch and breakfast to all of their employees (yay) It is gourmet buffet. I am very overwhelmed. This is the only opportunity I have all day to get some serious veggie intake so I’m trying not to screw up my selections. Also I am eating with respectable adults and I don’t want to embarrass myself too seriously before the end of my first week.

There are these Scandinavian dry cracker things that look like prison food. They have no flavor. They explode into a violent crumb catastrophe after the second bite. They might cause death if not consumed with emergency liquid lubrication. I love them and will be eating at least one a day.

Dinner kinda sucks honestly. I am not a full time employee so I cannot take any of the cafeteria food home (a popular option) and my hotel does not have a kitchen, so I am either going to waste all my money on food or have to get creative. I have a coworker that might be willing to do some sneaking for me, but he’s a real adult with real responsibilities so I might befriend someone younger who respect less to do the dirty work. I could live on ramen dinners, but I don’t want to do that to my body. I could also eat a lot of street hot dogs, but again, I don’t want to do that to my body. It is a constantly evolving situation that I will keep you updated on.

More pics:



Hope you have a fantastic week! Hav en god uge!

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