Karen Whittaker: Web Editor and Assistant Warden, South Downs
Although the term intern implies a young person, that is not necessarily true nowadays. With careers shifting and changing, a wide variety of professional people are looking for new avenues to gain experience. I was one of the interns involved in the pilot and volunteered 3 days a week of my time for the South Downs. Having worked as communications officer for the Arts Council and been made redundant, I wanted to try something new and get out of the office environment. After applying for roles in the countryside I could see this wasn't working - I thought I would get some experience in order to be more successful for future applications.
My internship was as a web developer for the new countryside pages of the website and assistant countryside warden.
Getting the web project off the ground required my specialist skills in project management, web developing, writing for the web, image manipulation, I did this by organising meetings with 7 wardens, 1 area manager and estate managers. With 15 new web pages to write (amounting to about 150 sub pages in total) this is no mean feat.
The other part of my role was to learn about countryside management, which I have really enjoyed - I could tell you tales of herding sheep and Llamas up the hill, or the day I was hoovering the Dyke! All in a day’s work. Working at one of the most beautiful places on the south coast (I may be just a tad biased!) at Saddlescombe Farm, not open to the public apart from two fabulous open days. With its huge inglenook fireplace in the old Tudor kitchen, I don't mind making everyone a cup of tea.
The internship gave me a chance to see how the National Trust worked and the type of people who worked there - all of whom were very welcoming and friendly. I knew that I had found out what I really wanted to do and where I wanted to be. My new role as Visitor Experience Project Manager for the South Downs came about because of my involvement with this internship.