Interns Day at Heelis

On Friday us three Long Term Volunteers got the opportunity to go on an  Interns Day at National Trust HQ Heelis, in Swindon. The day is designed to tell us all a bit about the Internship program the Trust are running, as it is only a few years old, to allow us all to meet one another and share our experiences, and to get some advice and direction with regards to getting a job with the Trust at the end of our time volunteering.

Heelis, Swindon

The first thing I learnt, before going on the course, was that although I sometimes say I am, I cannot call myself an Intern. Interns work part-time on a particular project for six months, where we Long Term Volunteers work full-time, as if we were a member of staff for a year. I must say I do prefer the term ‘Intern’, it sounds more professional and give different connotations to ‘Long Term Volunteer’ but I am glad I’m doing what I am. I get to stay longer for one, so I can fit more experiences in. There is more flexibility for me to experience a bit of everything and get involved with all different aspects too than if I were working solely on one project. I just hope the terminology will not get my experiences discounted when it is written down on paper.

The day was such a good day out, really interesting and good fun to boot. It was nice to meet others in the same situation as the trust, and I had no idea how many different Internships you could do! I had always assumed it was mainly Conservation or Education but there was Interns in marketing, IT, Photography, Reducing the Trusts energy consumption and green issues! There really is a vast array of different ways to work for the Trust! It was not surprising there were so many different Internships when they told us the Trust has more than 500 jobs, in 22 different specialist disciplines in over 200 locations!

The Atrium, showing five pieces of textile art

The Internship scheme was created because so many people were contacting the Trust asking to do work experience and Internships with them. Setting up the scheme was a much more effective way of satisfying the needs of the people asking, as well as making sure both the Trust and the Interns got the best out of the experience. Long Term Volunteers have been at Powis a lot longer than the Internship scheme has been running so we have the benefit of a slightly more established system. But days like the Internship day will help no end in establishing what is working and what is not and improving what is already a fantastic system to offer opportunities for those looking to get experience in the industry, as well as benefiting the Trust.

After the introduction and background of the scheme we had a bit of an ‘Intern speed dating’ session, where we had to talk to five different people for three minutes, ask them about what they were doing and where. This was a really good idea, it was really interesting to hear about the different things happening in the Trust, and to learn the common themes running through all properties and departments, like the massive effects of 364 opening. Everyone I met was so friendly and nice, and there was a lot of talk of visiting each other’s properties and seeing what exactly different Interns and properties are getting up to. As you may have gathered I will jump at any opportunity to visit different Trust properties so this sounded very exciting to me!

The meeting rooms where we were, One named after Powis!

After our chatting we were taken on a tour of Heelis. The building is architecturally amazing, built with a real focus on being energy-efficient and green. They said that if the building were dismantled it would not leave a lasting mark on the ground below. I’m not sure how necessary this is as it is located in the middle of a business/retail park, but it appeals to me that the Trust is paying so much attention to reducing their effects on the environment and reducing their carbon footprint. The interior reminded me very much of the new university library completed at Worcester just before I left. Both are amazing eco-friendly buildings, and both have the feel that they came flat packed from Ikea!

I spent lunch talking to new people and discussing our different experiences. One thing I am realising is that every property faces similar challenges the whole Trust through, but they also all operate very differently. Naomi just spent the week at Penrhyn and from what she was telling me it seems that they are the opposite to us here at Powis, yet we are all still within the same organisation, working towards the same goals and facing the same challenges. It is really interesting and makes me quite excited to discover what life is like at as many different properties as possible.

The Trust motto

We had a talk from a former Intern who attended the day last year, about her transition into working for the Trust, which was inspiring and exciting. I can only hope I will be in her position this time next year, that would be a dream come true! Then we did some career development planning with the team who are working on a new website for Trust employees to help them define their career ambitions and achieve them. We got a sneak peek of some of the content which will be on the page when it launches.

The first of two tasks was a fairly psychological quiz designed to show you what motivates you in your career. There were 36 pairs of statements that you have to award a set number of paints. Then you have to total up your scores and fill in a graph, which assigned a number to nine different motivators, with 1 meaning it held no motivation and 24 being the opposite end of the spectrum.

I scored:

–          Material rewards: 6

–          Power & Influence: 5

–          Search for meaning: 17

–          Expertise: 19

–          Creativity: 14

–          Affiliation: 14

–          Autonomy: 11

–          Security: 13

–          Status: 9

My scores weren’t very surprising to me, I have always known I don’t want to be the boss and this is not the career I would pick if all I wanted was to be rich! I would love to be an expert in a field; however I have to decide which area to specialise in first! I have always loved learning new skills and been very motivated to become good at the things that interest me, I seem to collect hobbies and interests! I was surprised however that my creativity was not higher, as I have always been told I am very creative. It’s the reason I’m no good at cooking, I read the recipes and decide to go off on a tangent instead! The response seemed to be the same all round the room, the quiz had come out reflecting us all rather well. All in all I thought it was a very good quiz, accurately clarifying what drives me in my career.

The solar pannels on the roof

The second activity was to write what we hoped our CV would look like in three years time. This seemed to be a slightly deeper version of the ‘where do you see yourself in . . .’ question, asking us not only to look at where we wanted to be, but also to fill in how we got there. I found it easy enough to think about what I would like to be doing in three years time, as there is so much I would be happy doing! The trouble was picking one path. However I don’t think my lack of focus is a bad thing given the current job situation. I like knowing that there is an awful lot out there I would be happy doing! My finished ‘dream’ CV looked like this:

Name: Ellen-Scarlett

Address: A Castle (possibly in Wales)

Job Title: Assistant House Steward, specialising in Textiles and Pest Management (It may not be a real job however it is a dream CV so I let myself off)

Career achievements in the past five years: Upper second class degree with honours In Archaeology and Heritage (tick). Nine months as a Conservation Assistant at The Greyfriars House and Gardens, Worcester (tick). 12 months as a Long Term Volunteer as Powis Castle and Gardens (partial tick). One year six months as a Conservation Assistant at a beautiful and interesting Trust property. Lots of different interesting training courses (2 down . . . many to go!).

Additional skills acquired: Learnt to drive (nearly there). Learnt to crochet (nowhere near). More travelling.

Continuing professional development: More training courses. A masters in textile conservation/Pest management (I should have just about recovered from writing my dissertation by then!)

 This activity, and the whole day in general, really got me excited about all the different possibilities that lie ahead of me in my career. I still feel so young, yet accomplished at the same time, and cannot wait to find out where I will be heading next. Though I know I will miss Powis Castle and everyone here I have been so lucky so far and cannot wait to embark on the rest of my career, gaining new experiences and skills and going to lots of fabulous places and meeting interesting new people. As they say, the world is my oyster, and I intend to explore as much of it as I can. Until then however I will carry on enjoying my time here and making the most of this Castle and this beautiful part of Wales! I am being kept thoroughly occupied with all that I am doing here, so won’t be daydreaming about the future too much! At least not any further than Christmas until all our decorations are finished and hung in the castle anyway!


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