Case study

Trainee visitor services officer — Joanne Wheeler

As a trainee, Joanne is gaining more responsibility allowing her to shape her role according to her interests

How did you get your forestry management job?

I completed an online application, online tests and interview to get my job with Forestry England.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My international tourism management degree included a sandwich year, which enabled me to spend a year working for the US National Park Service. This gave me valuable experience and was instrumental to me getting my current job.

Modules such as 'Managing the Visitor', 'Sustainable Tourism Planning' and 'Strategic Management' have proved to be useful in understanding the business and elements of my job role.

What's a typical working day like?

I'm employed by the district, so I travel to different sites during their busier times to help out, but the majority of my time is spent at my base forest centre. Here I work on a variety of tasks, such as facility inspections, general maintenance and the installation and removal of equipment and outdoor furniture, fence construction etc.

At busier times, I am occasionally on weekend standby. Usually this is standby in the case of emergencies and I am first aid trained for this purpose too. I'm also given various larger projects to brainstorm ideas on. Currently, I'm working to improve our wildlife hide.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I've been in my role for a couple of months and as it's a training role I'm gradually being given more responsibilities and opportunities to shape my role slightly, so I can work on what interests me.  

My ambition is to remain in Forestry England and progress to become a ranger within the next few years.

What do you enjoy most about your job at Forestry England?

I love being outdoors. Every day I spend at least a few hours working outside in the forest. I've also met some amazing people through my job.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Keeping on top of the workload and prioritising tasks can be difficult at times.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

I recommend gaining some relevant experience by volunteering. Many organisations welcome help from volunteers and you can usually find information on their websites.

It's also good to gain some customer service experience, as it helps you to evidence how you will deliver a good service to visitors.

Try to get to know people in the business - networking can be a good way to do this. And finally, visiting the forests and gaining familiarity with the trails is also really important as it shows you’re interested and committed to work in this sector.

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