Intern Insight

This article has been written by Briony Turner who was our Social Media and Marketing Intern during 2015. She has written a great article about what the working day involves for two of our other interns, Rachael and Lewis, based in the Field Services team. Her visit took place in June 2015.

waymarkers in a pile
Signposts piled up, ready to be sanded.

I’m very lucky. In my role I’m not just chained to a computer screen, tweeting away and drowning in analytics.  I also get to venture out and about, discovering different parts of Exmoor as well as learning about other people’s jobs and what exactly it is they do, all in the name of helping them use digital communications more effectively.

Field Services team at work
Rachel and Lewis hard at work!

I’ve tagged along on risk assessments for potential school groups at Hawkcombe; pulled up Christmas trees with Minehead Middle School at Hopcott, and enjoyed a somewhat charred baked potato with a lovely group of conservation volunteers – in the rain.

I’m not the only intern so I thought it was about time I met my counterparts who work in Field Services. This team is responsible for maintaining the ‘furniture’ you see around Exmoor National Park: gates, stiles, way-markers (signposts, to you and me), paths, fallen trees, foot bridges, fencing… the list goes on. All the important, practical work is carried out by the staff from the Exford depot. The two interns, Rachael and Lewis, are ten months into their year-long contract, so are well primed for giving an insight into what it is like to be working hands-on in all of Exmoor’s seasons…

Wood store at Exford
Wood store at the Exford Depot

Rachael and Lewis alternate their time between making gates and signs in the workshop and heading out onto Exmoor putting them all in place. Although, if you ask them what sort of summer they’ve had, you will get very different answers. Rachael admitted: “Every time I’m in the workshop, it rains, every time I’m out, it’s sunny. Lewis gets all the wet weather.” Lewis didn’t seem to mind though, he admitted: “We have had an amazing year.”

Learning and development has been a key part of their time with Exmoor National Park. By the end of their internship, Rachael and Lewis will have licences to drive tractors, dumpers, diggers, and tow a trailer. The protective gear they have been given for their placement is theirs to take away, not to mention the hands on experience they’ve gained. So, what does the future hold for them?

Both Rachael and Lewis are emphatic – they want to work outside. When I forced them to try and sum up their time in five words, they agreed that it had been ‘an interesting learning curve’, and ‘a lot of fun.’ Rachael pointed out that: “The public don’t really know about the workshop. They get to see all the beautiful signs and gates, but not the time and effort that goes in to it all.” Lewis highlighted that without the internship, he wouldn’t have gained the experience he needed to get on in the industry: “To be able to learn and live, as we’ve been earning money – it has been really useful. If I had to volunteer to get the experience, I couldn’t afford to do it.”

Exmoor Pony
An inquisitive Exmoor pony on Winsford Hill

And their key bit of advice for any future interns? “Everyone is really supportive… never be afraid to ask, there will always be someone to help you out.” With that positive endorsement ringing in my ears, it was my cue to get back to Exmoor House. As I was driving over Winsford Hill, I spotted a chance to get some pictures of the Exmoor ponies. A quick snapshot later, I was back in the car pondering the the first piece of advice I received as an intern – never get separated from your packed lunch…

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