Eleanor Dodson

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Non-profit - Other
Job title: Communications Assistant
Subject of study: Geography
Year of graduation: 2016
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

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

When I left, I didn’t truly know what I wanted to do. So I did the best thing you should in this situation – try anything and everything! I started off working as a ranger for the National Trust in the Cotswolds, which was a lovely area to work in, however I quickly realised I personally wasn’t suited to the type of work, which involved lots of manual labour on very little pay. After 3 months of feeling something wasn’t right, I took a leap of faith and quit. What followed wasn’t easy, and it took me 3 years and 10 job changes to get where I am today. Some of those jobs were internships at the university, others were short-term temp jobs, and a couple were permanent. The more permanent jobs I dabbled with included being a librarian, a teaching assistant, and I also tried water quality modelling. Admittedly, the modelling job was one I rushed into for the sake of money, and I very quickly regretted it – the company wasn’t right for me by any means, and they treated new employees poorly. Always do your research before accepting a permanent job offer, and visit the place and the team to get a feel for it first. After all of that, a family member tagged me in a post on Facebook from my local Wildlife Trust about a new job opening as a communications assistant. I felt excited. This was my chance! It was perfect for me, combining my interests in the environment with my academic skill set. After filling out a lengthy application form detailing all of my previous jobs (they didn’t accept CV’s), and attending formal and informal interviews, I had the call on the same day that I got the job. It was a huge sense of relief, and I can happily say I have stayed working for them ever since.

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

I have always loved reading and writing, and I’m motivated by making a difference. Working for a charity enables me to work for a good cause, and my job means I can shout about it every day. I mostly enjoy working on campaigns, which encourage other people to make a positive difference too.

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

I was on the Geography Student Employability Committee (GSEC), inviting employers to give talks about their work and attend careers fairs. I was also a member of the swimming club and badminton club.

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

I loved learning about Earth System Science and Climate Change, which I found very interesting. There was a good mix of physical geography and human geography modules to choose from, with great lecturers who were always happy to help. Everyone was generally really friendly at the university which helped a great deal with my experience of it. My biggest highlight has to be the field trip to California! It was a great experience and one I will never forget.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The place, the people, the course – I can’t choose! Although living by a beach helped.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

I liked their research and their focus on the environment.

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

GIS, which i’ve used in a few internships and jobs. General report writing skills which I have written in scientific ways and simpler ways (you can never go wrong with a good graph) Volunteering experiences which I picked up through the uni employability service, getting out and about with different environmental charities.

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

Volunteer with similar charities/businesses depending on what motivates you. Contact them directly asking if you can help, even if it’s just writing a blog for their website or doing a social media takeover, it doesn’t have to be a lot. Sign up for online courses/webinars – Google have free courses in their digital garage on digital marketing which you can do in your own time, there are also tons of free webinars out there once you know where to look – CharityComms is a good website for reading articles about the work and finding out about webinars and conferences, there are also websites like Non-profit Tech for Good. There are online diplomas available too if you wish to gain more qualifications in digital marketing/comms but don’t want to take a masters (I didn’t).

What are your plans for the future?

I aim to stay working in communications, mostly the digital side, for organisations which make a difference. Maybe one day I will step up to manager level, but for now I’m enjoying the journey where I am and gaining lots of valuable experience along the way.


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