Almost a truck driver, before taking a U-turn into the optician profession

07/03 2022 - Stores

Almost a truck driver, before taking a U-turn into the optician profession

Silje Myklebust Mathiesen can thank Siv who runs the Specsavers store in Husnes, Norway, for not driving a truck in construction traffic right now. “It could have been fun to drive stones and gravel at facilities, but I’m glad I chose the optician industry. It is probably the right shelf for me,” says Silje, who is currently studying optometry at the University of Southeast Norway (USN) at Kongsberg.

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Silje grew up on a family farm in the beautiful Kvinnherad at the far end of the Hardangerfjord. Nearby is the Barony of Rosendal, and right behind the barn is Folgefonna National Park. She loves nature and loves to go deer hunting with her family. This is where she wants to live, but it’s not just easy to find a profession with future prospects in a village on these edges. Her grandfather ran his own company with trucks and large construction machinery, and Silje had always wanted to sit behind the wheel of the big donkeys.

From contact-lens check to store work

One day, Silje stopped by Specsavers in the town of Husnes for a contact-lens check. She talked to Siv A. Sandvik, who owns and runs that store and coincidentally told her that she could think of a different job than the store job she had. “It was a ‘life-changing moment’ for me,” says Silje. She and Siv got along very well, and it was the start of a completely new career path for Silje. Shortly afterwards, she started as a store employee and assistant to Siv.

Endless possibilities in Specsavers

The opportunities for professional and personal development are the first thing Silje mentions when we ask what’s good about Specsavers. “The possibilities are endless,” says Silje. “You get constant professional updates, for example, at the annual Clinical Conference where everyone who works in the industry can participate and get an overview of the development. And you’re encouraged to take courses and further your education in the subject. If you want to become a partner, then it is both a realistic and achievable goal.”

First became optical dispenser

Silje joined Specsavers in August 2016. Already in October, she was running an online course to become an optical dispenser. “The course opened my eyes to the opportunities in the industry and became like a springboard for me,” says Silje, who also points out her boss, Siv, as an important source of inspiration. Siv Sandvik is otherwise pursuing a doctorate in the subject, so the academic ambitions are high at Specsavers in Husnes.

Bachelor in optometry

Silje is now a full-time student at the University of Kongsberg. She’ll finish her studies in 2023, and then she knows that she has a job to go to in her home village. “What I do next, after that, I don’t know yet, but maybe I’ll take a master’s degree,” Silje implies. She enjoys studying and doesn’t disregard further education, but she’ll probably work a little in the field first.

Helps people have better eyesight

It’s the satisfaction it gives to help people have better eyesight, Silje points out as the best thing about working in Specsavers. “The optician profession is defined as a health profession. We find solutions and help our customers to a better everyday life. I’ll never forget the old lady who came in after cataract surgery. The tears flowed when we gave her the right glasses, and she realised how good her vision had become. To her, it was a new life,” says Silje, who also mentions the good cohesion between colleagues as an important well-being factor in the job.

Honouring Grandma

“Grandma,” Silje says firmly when we ask for people who inspire her. She says that her grandmother encouraged her and pushed her to start her studies at Kongsberg. “It’s not certain that I’d have taken that step without her support,” she says and justifies it with her strong connection to her home village and that it took a long time to move out, even for a period. Silje also gives Siv, her employer, much of the credit for being a student today. One week before Silje started studying, her grandmother died, so Silje feels that she honours her by putting extra effort into her studies.

Specsavers is always on the lookout for new opticians, optical assistants, or sales employees. Get to know more about working for us or jump straight to our vacancies here.

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