Charlie Pugh

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Forestry
Job title: Business Administration Apprentice
Subject of study: Geography
Year of graduation: 2019
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

South Downs National Park Authority

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

Currently travelling. Yet worked for 18 months with the South downs national park authority, as a business administration apprentice. Post graduation, I worked bar and restaurant jobs to fund my travel plans in 2020. These plans were altered by the pandemic, so during the early period of covid, I struggled to find work sending applications to any job within the conservation industry. With little luck, it was in the late summer of 2020, when a member of staff from the SDNPA reached out to me and made me aware of the apprenticeship roles, soon to be available. I made this connection during my dissertation research, as my thesis subject was sustainable tourism in the South Downs National Park. Building on this, I presented my findings at their annual conference after university. With the SDNPA, going through an organisation wide reshuffle as my contract was coming towards its end, I decided to rekindle my travel plans. And for the last few months I’ve travelled Europe and I am currently in Australia, where I will hopefully find work in relation to my sustainability passion.

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

My initial interest with this career path stemmed from university, in particular lectures surrounding sustainable business, carbon tax, circular economy and the donut theory. I found real value in these, as for me, this is where I see our society pushing towards and I want to be part of it. The National Park was a great opportunity to learn and develop practically. And I made the most of my time there, working in a small team, responsible for the rural economy and sustainable tourism. My favourite experiences came from working with the team and getting out into the field, and working with like minded businesses to deliver on sustainability goals, for the good of there business and the wider environment.

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

I was captain of the FXU football team and captain of the CSM cricket team in 2019.

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

The people, although we went on so many amazing trips, looking back on it, the friendships I still have is invaluable. People make a place.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The small, family-like nature of it. Every time you would be out in Falmouth, there’d be a friendly face you’d come across for a quick chat.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

We share values and I wanted to challenge myself at a top university. Giving myself the best opportunity for my career progression, but also to enjoy the beaches of Cornwall.

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

Interpersonal relationships and confidence. Understanding that if you walk into a workplace, your knowledge is limited. Instead of being intimidated by that, I thrived from it, asking challenging questions of why we do things in a certain way. Having an ingrained working mentality as well, when you see, or are given, a job to do you commit to seeing it through. This was especially important during lockdowns and a new work from home structure.

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

If you want a career within any National Park, first get out there. Go for walks or hikes in the place, go to the information centres, speak to the staff, sign up to there newsletters and job adverts, apply for jobs, even if you feel you may be underqualified (they will remember you for the next one). Traditionally, most of the staff I spoke to started as volunteers, so get active. I was part of the first UK wide young people in national parks conference, and there is a big push for our generation to influence the future of our national parks.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m on a working holiday visa in Australia, and my future plans are uncertain. I want to experience the private sectors influence on sustainable business, following my time with the park.


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