Posts Tagged ‘work experience’

There’s more to forestry than just trees! By Nathalie Goodsir, work experience student.

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Having to find a week’s work experience at the end of my first year of Sixth Form was a daunting thought, especially with no definite idea of my future career in mind.

So when dad suggested to me that I should come and see what goes on at the Forestry Commission in Bristol (and promised me it wasn’t all cutting down trees!) I thought it would be a good idea.

I was a little nervous on Thursday, my first day, thoughts of either a big scary office block, with David Brent style boss, or walking in and being handed an axe and told to get on with it were floating in my mind. However after a few minutes of being there I knew I had nothing to worry about.

My first two days were spent with the communications team, having never seen how a team like this works it was interesting to learn what they really do. After two days of writing press releases, ‘weekly buzz’ enewsletter entries and sorting out press cuttings, I was definitely ready for the weekend, but knew that by Sunday evening, I would be looking forward to going back on Monday morning.

The next part of my work experience was spent looking at the Forestry Commission as a whole. Monday was spent with the executive office in the morning, talking to them about their roles, and then my afternoon was spent with Kellie in the policy and programmes team, working on the intranet and hopefully being helpful!

Next stop – helping Sian in marketing to source t-shirts and sort out car parking tickets for the Discovery Pass. I really enjoyed seeing everything that went on in the marketing team and how it’s linked to the rest of the FC.

I also went downstairs and chatted to the people in grants and regulations. Having my dad work there, you’d think I’d know what they did, however even after the team’s explanation and his, it’s clear that it’s far too technical and complicated for my brain to cope with (but interesting nevertheless).

On Wednesday I had a break from my schedule in the national office and took a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum, which is managed by the Forestry Commission, to work with Katrina and the marketing team. I arrived in time to attend the monthly staff meeting, at which there was a talk by wildlife ranger at the Forest of Dean. Then it was back to the little marketing office to see more of what they got up to. I spent the morning looking through some facts and figures Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) survey and typing up the findings. Then it was time for lunch, and it would have been rude not to appreciate the beautiful surroundings so I got an expert tour of the site by Katrina, which was very much appreciated. It was then an afternoon of looking more at what she and her team did and quickly my day was over.

It was a really good experience to see the organisation I’ve been working with for the past week in a completely different way.

Then, before I knew it, it was Thursday and my last day. Some work with finance and the design team was on the agenda and I think I’ve now seen almost every department that works in that office and each one has appealed to me in different ways.

Overall I’ve had a fantastic week, I haven’t met one person who hasn’t been helpful or friendly and I would definitely encourage anyone else thinking of coming to the Forestry Commission to do so. The variety within the organisation ranges wider than I ever would have imagined and I’d like to thank everyone that’s made me week so helpful, especially Becci Turner for organising my whole week, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

A week’s worth of invaluable experience, by Harriet Stride, year 10 work placement student.

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I chose to come to Westonbirt Arboretum as I hoped I would experience a wide range of jobs and gain a better knowledge of the wide world of work. My time here has certainly lived up to this, as I have been helping to fell dead trees, herding 4 and 5 year olds on their teddy bears’ picnic activity and learning about the enormous amount of effort and detail that goes into the extensive databases of the collection here. My experience really couldn’t have been much more varied!  

I began on Monday with several extremely commited members of the learning team on a years 3 and 4 school visit about trees’ role in climate change. Although I was only watching and listening I felt exhausted by the end of the day, giving me much respect for everyone who does this almost on a day to day basis! I finished the day helping out with a health and safety check on the outdoor play facilities.

On Tuesday I was with the tree team for the majority of the day. I assisted with felling a couple of dead trees and feeding them into a loud, grinding wood chipping machine! It was definitely something far from what I am usually able to do and was quite exciting until we found ourselves looking for rather elusive trees in the rain.

I was later able to talk though the incredible databases held of the entire Westonbirt collection with Sally Day. She showed me some of the original hand-drawn maps made of the arboretum on which someone had marked each tree on by hand as a dot with a unique number. It is outstanding the detail the maps and databases go into and the organisation of it. It is clear that the running of Westonbirt wouldn’t be nearly as efficient without them. 

I had a good time on Wednesday morning with visitor services, driving around Silk Wood in their truck. We were clearing out bins, and I listened to their interesting and funny anecdotes of their past experiences at the arboretum was very entertaining. We found a lovely dog that had run away from its owner, a regular visitor to Westonbirt, so we took some time trying to find him and were relieved to finally reunite them. Judy, the dog, went straight on her lead!

On my last day I spent an hour talking to Sophie Nash about architecture and new landscaping designs that will hopefully be realised at Westonbirt in the future. I am interested in going down an architectural based career path and so I found looking at the plans and different designs quite inspiring. I now really appreciate how much care goes into every individual feature of the designs for a new welcome building and the parking arrangements which involve even small things such as guttering and stair regulations that are rarely even noticed. 

I spent the rest of the morning in the Plant Centre helping out with day to day tasks that are necessary to keep the shop as nice as it is. Finally, I spent the last few hours with the marketing team. I was talked through all of the promotional material and was able to proof read the current draft of the programme for this year’s Treefest which looks fantastic! 

As is probably clear from the amount I have written here, I have had a busy week at Westonbirt and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I would certainly recommend coming here for work experience, even if you are not set on having a career specifically in subjects here because the experience I have been given has been brilliant.  Thank you to everyone who has made me feel so welcome here!