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.
Wimpole 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…
- 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.
- 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