How to ‘Get in and Get On’ With The National Trust

Sarah Merriman, a Visitor Experience Manager for the National Trust (Wimpole Estate), has been kind enough to share some tips with Historical Honey on how to approach forging a career within the National Trust, or indeed the wider heritage sector.

wimpole01Wimpole Estate, where Sarah works as a Visitor Experience Manager.


More About Sarah:

Sarah has recruited around 200 staff and volunteers for the National Trust, so she knows what she’s talking about! She was the youngest Head of Department in the Devon & Cornwall region, and has worked at three of the busiest National Trust sites in the country. After receiving a 2: 1 in History, she began working for the National Trust within a month of graduation.

Her Experience Includes;

August 2005-December 2007

Visitor Services Reception and Recruitment Officer: Dunham Massey, Cheshire

July – October 2007

Visitor Services Manager (secondment): Torbay Properties, Devon

January 2008 – May 2011

Visitor Services Manager: Lanhydrock, Cornwall

June 2011 – Present

Visitor Experience Manager: Wimpole, Cambridgeshire

Her roles have varied in content, and are not limited to – project, event and budget management; sales, fundraising and marketing; interpretation and education; strategic planning; emergency management and guest services.

Sarah’s Top Tips for Getting In and Getting On:

Do Your Research:

  • Don’t be shy to talk to recruiting managers about what they want before submitting an application. Applications should be about what you can offer them, not what they can offer you.
  • For goodness’ sake visit a place you are applying to work at (You’d be amazed at how many people don’t)!  How would you fit in? What are they working on? Think – who are their competitors and comparators?  What is their market profile?
  • Inform yourself about the sector and current issues; do you know about The National Trust’s current campaigns and projects? The information is out there…

Show Commitment:

  • Be prepared to move; you’re in a competitive field so open up your options.
  • Be prepared to start at the bottom; I started on a £15k salary but have doubled it in the last 6 years.  I have frequently promoted staff who started on a seasonal contract if they’ve shown that they are passionate about their work.
  • Volunteering can be a golden ticket.  It shows commitment, interest and a real understanding of what hard work the heritage sector can be. If you can’t get in to the industry first time of trying, volunteer alongside whatever else you do.

Be Strategic:

  • If you want to be a manager, look for management experience as soon as possible, even if it’s in a slightly different area of the sector. Practical experience can be easily gained; management experience is often harder to get.
  • Put yourself forward for opportunities when they come up.  Occasionally, the best candidates wouldn’t have occurred to me until they showed their ambition.

Credit : Sarah Merriman’s 1-page biog/tips written for a careers presentation at Cambridge University

Do you work for the National Trust? Have you any insider tips to get in and get on at the National Trust? Let us know in the comments box below!

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