Careers in the countryside
Careers advice has changed over the years – thank goodness! And we were delighted to read a great blog from a young man who is completing a work placement at one of Scotland’s most iconic estates: Rothiemurchus at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Cameron Warren has spent the last 10 months on a student placement whilst studying Countryside Management at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. Here’s a little from Cameron’s time in the highlands …
At Uni, Cameron discovered that one of his modules was a work placement; his lecturer detailed how the process worked and told Cameron and his course fellows about the assignments they’d have to complete. Cameron says: “We were given presentations from past placement students. They told us how their placement went, the things they got up to – and we were given the opportunity to ask questions.”
One stood out for Cameron – from another Cameron! Cameron Bliss had done his placement at Rothiemurchus the year before. The next step – he was put in touch with Julian Orsi, the estate’s Countryside Manager. Julian had arrived at Rothiemurchus as a student himself – joining the estate team when he was about to graduate from St. Andrews University. He began his career as a graduate trainee and now heads up Rothiemurchus’ Countryside Ranger, wildlife, photography and fishery teams.
Cameron explains: “I filled in an application form, emailed it to Julian and arranged for an interview. I got a quick tour and was happy to hear soon after that I had been successful.” His placement year started on the 1st September 2015.
All new staff at Rothiemurchus get an induction which includes the opportunity to try some of the outdoor activities on offer. Cameron enjoyed a Quad Bike Trek and Land Rover Experience and he also went Clay Target Shooting and on the Feed the Deer experience. He says: “The first couple months were busy as I was split between different departments – learning about Rothiemurchus as part of the front desk team one day and walking up a hill to check for storm damage the next, it kept me on my toes!”
One of the highlights from his first few months was a 6am start – weening young deer from their parents at the same time as administering medication and sexing the red deer. “This was a very long and tiring day but great fun and it was also a bonus to work with some of the team that I hadn’t worked with before.”
During his time spent through Christmas and into the New Year, Cameron learned a lot of things he didn’t know before: “Before I joined Rothiemurchus I knew very little about stock and deer fencing. Working with the maintenance department I soon learned the ins and outs of building and repairing fences.”
One day last winter, he got to experience the full force of Cairngorms weather. He was on duty to work at the fishery. The evening before it rained – heavily. Heading to work, the road was closed due to flooding. By the time he’d taken a detour to reach it, it was totally flooded with water was up to the window sills. “My colleague Craig, and myself set about cleaning the fishery from the flood. It almost took us a week to get the place clean and ready for opening again!”
Cameron also spent some time working in the Druie Cafe Restaurant, washing dishes in the kitchen to start – and then serving out front and taking orders. “My auntie and uncle have a pub on the Isle of Wight where I have helped out before, so I generally knew what I was doing … and it meant I got a free lunch too!”
He also got to spend time with the Countryside Ranger service, undertaking lots of tasks, from patrols to grass cutting – and taking tours. “My personal favourite is ‘Feed the Deer’. This is where we take members of the public up to the deer farm. They get to feed and stroke the deer and this goes down particularly well with small children! I always enjoyed seeing the happy faces during the Feed the Deer experience. People are always amazed at how close they are able to get to the deer.” Cameron has a word of advice for anyone considering taking the Feed the Deer tour: go at the end of June and early July as all the young deer have been born and there are lots of young calves running around!
Cameron very much enjoyed his time at Rothiemurchus. “I have learned a lot of useful things and have had a great time.” Now he’s heading back to Harper Adams University, working hard to complete his FdSc in Countryside Management.
Looking for opportunities to work in Scotland’s countryside?
Check out these useful links for more …
- Scottish Countryside Rangers Association
- National Trust for Scotland Rangers
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency
- Countryside Jobs Service
- Scottish Gamekeepers Association