My name is Clare and I am the Visitor Experience and Volunteering Manager for the York Area for the National Trust. My job involves managing operations at Goddards House and Garden which is a small National Trust property near the Racecourse in York which used to be Mr Terry’s (of Chocolate Orange fame) house – this means I look after the volunteers, staff, conservation, environmental performance, finances and visitor experience which can include anything from exhibitions to introducing new interpretation and displays. In my job I also spend time away from Goddards and also help Beningbrough Hall and Gardens and Treasurer’s House with project work to improve our visitors’ experiences at our places, and help our staff with volunteer management. It is a hugely rewarding job with lots of variety and a chance to work with great people. I started out volunteering in museums and galleries when I was at school, and then at University to gain experience which gave me a great insight into the field I wanted to go into in my professional life.
Recently there was a careers event at the University of York and unfortunately I couldn’t attend, but I believe there were some questions, so I am going to attempt to answer them here:
Q What roles are there in the NT in education/work with young people? (and what outdoors roles?)
A There are both volunteering and staff roles within the National Trust which involve working with young people. The role which focuses most on working with young people is probably the Learning Officer role, although Community and Learning Officer roles are also out there, and Visitor Experience roles, as well as Project Officer roles. They are really rewarding roles, working with schools, families, community groups, volunteers and often external partners. A great way to get into this role is to become a Learning volunteer (there are lots of posts available especially at Beningbrough Hall and Gardens near York). Some of this role involves working with young people outdoors – especially as this is a real focus for the Trust at the moment – getting people outdoors and closer to nature. And of course our gardeners are a great asset to help us work with people in our outdoor spaces.
Q What volunteering roles do you have in the heritage education area?
A There are lots and lots of volunteering roles in heritage – from retail roles, website volunteering, social media, learning, community, visitor experience, tour guiding…the list goes on and on! Check out the National Trust volunteering pages at: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/find-an-opportunity/ Or contact the properties directly to chat to one of the staff if you want a specific project piece of work.
Q What kinds of experience do you look for? And how much work experience?
A We really look for enthusiasm and an interest if you want to volunteer and any knowledge and experience is a bonus! If you are applying for a job, the more experience you can get in your chosen field is a great asset, and any management of projects (whether big or small) is also a great thing to have on your CV. A mix of gallery, museum and heritage work also shows a rounded approach to the wider cultural field which can be advantageous, depending on what role you are going for.
Q Would you recommend a Masters in Museum Studies or PGCE?
It very much depends on what kind of role you are applying for. Often it doesn’t matter if you are applying for a commercial role in the heritage sector. For learning, visitor experience, project roles and community or exhibitions work, it can be helpful to have done a PGCE or Masters which gives you extra experience and knowledge which you can bring to the role. A good mix of theory and practical experience is most important though.
I hope this is helpful and do get in touch with one of our places if you are interested in volunteering and check out the NT jobs website to see what kind of careers are out there!