Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hello! I’m Daisy, I’m the Volunteer Officer at Ickworth, National Trust.
What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
My job is to work together with the Head of Departments, such as Visitor Experience, Catering, and the House Team, to help look after their volunteers. I also work across different teams in order to get new volunteers involved in the charity.
The role could cover anything from seeing what help a department or team needs, to putting on some training, organising work experience, or organising property wide information sharing sessions. It’s a lot about listening to what departments feel they need or would like to do, and showing that the help is available if they wish to do this - if not from me, then from relevant bodies.
What’s great about your job?
Volunteers and staff across all departments come from such a varied backgrounds and are here for all sorts of reasons which is so refreshing. So often I am surprised at what skills, experience and energy people bring to this place.
I‘ve always said if a place has volunteers you know it’s going to be a nice place to work, because people choose to be there for the love of being there, because they want to offer something different or because they want to learn something themselves.
This also means I get to see and hear about some beautiful stories of people growing: someone has learnt something new, someone has shown a different skill we didn’t know about, someone has gained some confidence in something new.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
I am in the incredibly special situation of never going home and disliking my job, I really do know how special that is and how lucky I am for that fact.
The biggest challenge would be having to learn things very quickly! The main one that I feel has really made a difference is learning different people and different department’s priorities. We are a conservation charity who welcomes everyone to see the parks, coastline, houses, paintings, statues, gardens, pubs, bridges, and more, that we look after forever. We have teams that look after the objects and places for the future and we have departments that look after the people coming to visit, and it’s those visitors who make our conservation work possible. Working across both means seeing both sides of that
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
I always knew I enjoyed working with people; up until now it’s usually been customer service, retail, food and beverage, hospitality… With a degree in creative advertising and always having a creative streak, I thought my career would go in a marketing direction.
I was never really aware of jobs or careers purely based on people. When this job came up it was complete chance and I thought I’d take a look. The more I read in to the role profile, the more I realised how much volunteering had played a part in my life right from being a junior first aider for St John Ambulance, through chairing a ladies hockey team right up to the volunteering I’d been doing on property alongside my role in food and beverage. I loved trying something different and the feeling of doing something for others and now I could make a career of it!
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
Stepping out of university with a degree and believing I could now walk in to a full time, well paid, perfectly suitable job was probably the biggest misconception of my life so far. Experience plays a major part in finding the right job for you, but experience can also be found in some of the least expected places.
To get the experience I needed and to the role I am in now, in a charity, I’ve had to do quite a bit of dual life experiences: paid work alongside perfect work. To originally get into working for a charity I volunteered for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust as an Education Assistant for one and a half years, three days a week, while being a hotel supervisor the rest of the week and in evenings.
When I first started at the National Trust I picked up hours in any departments that would take me, making sure I said yes when people asked for extra help and made sure I was top of the stay late/call in to cover sickness list. The role I am currently in started as a part time role, so off to a high street restaurant I went to cover hours for the rest of the week. Balancing has had its tough moments, but it also means you have double the chances to be where the fun is happening too!
Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
I have been in the National Trust for three and a half years now and in the charity sector for five years, so I don’t feel I can't quite ‘speak from experience’ yet. One thing I am noticing, not just in the industry, but in news and on social media too, is how are we are, together, making the world a more inclusive space, which is inspirational for all and where all can fulfil their true potential.
When I first got into charity work, I thought I needed to be in an ambulance or on the street to make any difference to the world, but, although that style of work or volunteering might be something I return to in the future, I realised you can make a difference to people’s lives in other ways too – and not just a little difference either. I am still shocked when I am told that someone’s life has been changed by something that I am a part of.
What would you say to a visitor coming to Ickworth House?
Visually and physically, Ickworth is something very different to experience. Emotionally, again, for me, it all comes down to people. Over the next year we’ll be working with other charities in collaborations, with artists we’ve never worked with before, and there'll be new ways of viewing art and we will be really utilising the skills and knowledge of those who support Ickworth.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
Volunteer! It might sound like an obvious one from me, being a Volunteer Officer, but it’s the range of experiences and situations you get thrown in to by volunteering that really gets you ready to be flexible with your career path and the experience to deal with whatever come next. Get involved in something you love, give it your all, and have fun!