Adam Robertson Charlton

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Animal & Wildlife
Job title: Communications Officer
Subject of study: Middle East Studies
Year of graduation: 2020
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

RSPB England

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Since leaving Exeter I’ve worked in hospitality, completed a masters in international journalism, and now work as a freelance journalist and communications officer.

As a journalist I’ve reported from refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, covering the importance of access to green spaces in creating a sense of permanence and agency, and reported on conservation efforts in Ukraine’s Danube Delta, which are ongoing despite the war.

As a communications officer, I’ve worked on invasive species projects in the Orkney Islands, nature-friendly farming, and am about to begin a new role with RSPB England. In this job I’ll be responsible for telling the stories of 14 new nature restoration projects around England’s southeastern coastline. 

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I was always interested in working in journalism, and covering issues in the Middle East. However, my focused moved more and more towards conservation issues in two years after completing my degree. Most of my reporting focusses on the relationship between human conflict and the environment, and I find this both interesting and important.

By working part time as a journalist, I am able to pick and choose the issues that I cover, while having a stable income provided by my work as a communications officer. This more stable work also provides a real sense of fulfilment, as I believe the climate and biodiversity crises are among the most important facing us. Even when you’ve had a bad day at work, it’s nice to know that you’re helping to combat these emergencies, however small that contribution might be! 

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

Student newspaper

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I had some amazing anthropology classes on the ethnography of protest in the Middle East, and I loved how wide ranging the course was, despite its geographical focus. 

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The course, the people I met at the institute, and being close to Dartmoor and the south Devon coastline. 

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

It was the best place to study Middle Eastern Studies (without having to learn a language which I’m terrible at, although you should learn a language if you can!) 

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

I think the general knowledge about systems and culture in the Middle East. 

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Do extracurricular stuff. I should have done more, but writing regularly for Exeposé helped me to secure my first freelance gigs, as I at least had something online to link to when pitching publications.

Also, get use to rejections, get really good at pitching (keep it short), and don’t waste your time writing whole articles before you’ve had a pitch accepted, however tempting it might be!

If you want to work in conservation, you usually have to do a lot of voluntary work first, especially if you don’t have a science background. I got lucky, but look for those roles in far flung places or where your specific skills intersect with the role. 

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve got a two year contract now, and I’ll probably see that out, as working in nature restoration/rewilding has been the goal for a while. After that, I might go and do some voluntary filmmaking/media stuff for Sea Shepherd on one of their boats, or try to get funding to make a film about Persian leopard restoration in Iraqi Kurdistan… Who knows, I’m sure I’ll have totally new ideas in two years time, (or someone will have made that film before me!). 


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