I am going to tell you about my new job as construction engineer. It is frequent that jobs in Denmark are found or created just by serendipity and that’s a an even bigger example. It’s so absurd, I would not believe it at first glance.

September 2023

In September 2023, I embarked on a new part-time job at Panel Trade, a small company specializing in the delivery of lightweight construction elements. Due to this part-time status, I still receive unemployment benefits, which supplement my income.

Within the company, I am tasked with performing engineering calculations and drafting technical documentation for the elements delivered by Panel Trade. This documentation is actually quite standardized. The numbering of documents, their titles, and file names, for example, adhere to a Danish professional standard. Additionally, many text blocks remain identical from one project to another.

So, it should be possible - and even beneficial - to script it.

January 2024

I have long wanted to work with LaTeX , but I have never had the opportunity. LaTeX is a high-quality document composition system. It perfectly aligns with my way of thinking and working, as it emphasizes logic, document structure, and standardized formatting, which is essential for me. It also easily allows for the incorporation of mathematical formulas and symbols, such as Greek letters.

A technical documentation framework in LaTeX is therefore ideal.

Eurocodes with Greek characters and equations on every page baby.

Therefore, in January 2024, I begin designing a documentation framework using LaTeX.

February 2024

In February 2024, my boss, Peter, decides to take an office in a shared workspace in Brabant. At the same time, I present him my LaTeX framework.

He is just amazed when watching the whole compilation shebang, especially when I produce all project documentation in less than a minute.

A few days later, within this shared workspace, I meet Nile, also a construction engineer, who has started his own technical consultancy, Rivernile.

NIle -> Rivernile… hahahhah

He essentially works on the same tasks as me: drafting technical documentation and performing structural calculations, but while my documentations might be around twenty pages total at most, his can easily reach 80 or 100 pages.

He sees my LaTeX files and says to me:

Hey, I have files like this, could you help me work on them?

Just like that, out of the blue…

We discuss how we could formalize this collaboration. I quickly understand that his company currently has too erratic a workload. Therefore, it’s impossible for him to hire me, whether full-time or part-time.

He suggests that ideally, I should register as a freelancer. Peter had also mentioned this solution several times, suggesting the possibility of working directly for some of his other clients who also need documentation writing or engineering calculations.

I’ve rarely seen myself as particularly entrepreneurial, so starting my own business doesn’t excite me the least. But here, I have a good chance of getting off part-time employment. So let’s go for it.

I inquire about how business creation works here (website in Danish) and I note that the best thing is to start the business on the first day of the month.

At the same time, I try several times to discuss with Peter, our continuing arrangement for the future.

Friday, March 1, 2024

On Friday, March 1, I apply for a CVR number - which is the first step in creating a business - on virk.dk.

I specifically do this on that day to continue receiving unemployment benefits for the month of March. Let’s not kid ourselves there, I have no certitude that it’s going to work, better keep the safety belt on.

Monday, March 4, 2024, 10:00 AM

I receive an email confirming that I have obtained my CVR number (registration number for my micro-enterprise). I am now self-employed.

At the same time, I discuss with Peter, how we will manage, as I aim to continue working part-time with him at the same time as I work for Nile and maybe others as freelancer.

Monday, March 4, 2024, 12:00 PM

We meet Nile in the cafeteria, and he straightforwardly tells me that he wants to hire me on a trial basis, as his other engineer has resigned.

The joke continue writing itself.

A new discussion ensues to determine how to establish this new collaboration, and we agree that I will start a trial period in April (during which I shall still receive unemployment benefits). At the same time, Panel Trade will become a new regular client of Nile’s, meaning that I will still be responsible for their technical documentation.

During the month of March

During a conversation in March with my unemployment insurance fund (the ones who pay out my benefits), they inform me that I cannot resign from my part-time job with Panel Trade because otherwise, there will be a three-week waiting period during which they cannot pay me unemployment benefits.

However, since I won’t yet have a fixed salary, I need to find another solution. Ideally, it would be Peter and not me who terminates the employment contract.

And in fact, the previous employment contract just so happens to end at the end of March.

I am telling you, someone played the lotto and put my name on the grid. Not possible otherwise.