Vicky Ellaway-Barnard

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Other Industries
Job title: Operations Officer
Subject of study: Geography
Year of graduation: 2012
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

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

I stayed on at Exeter to do my PGCE in Secondary Geography (I had placements in Okehampton and Tiverton) and then got my first teaching job in Hertfordshire. I worked as a Geography teacher for five years and, like all teachers, I had numerous other hats at different points, including Resident Tutor in a girls’ boarding house and Head of Geography. I completed my MA in Education part-time during my second and third years of teaching. Around 18 months ago, I decided to change career and move into the charity sector to work for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

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

I always knew I wanted to work with young people, but I was never sure in what capacity this would be. Training as a teacher was a brilliant foundation for any other career I could wish to have – my PGCE year was probably the toughest I have ever been through, but I developed so many transferable skills through teaching e.g. confidence, prioritisation of tasks, and creativity. Now that I’m in the charity sector, I enjoy being able to use my role to support teachers in their delivery of DofE as I know how hectic and pressured their day-to-day jobs are. The aspect of my current job that I love the most is that I can plan my own diary, and there is lots of opportunity to be proactive and innovative.

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

In my second and third years I was part of Flute Choir and Concert Band.

Were you part of the Exeter Student Ambassador Scheme at any point during your studies?

Yes.

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

I really enjoyed the fieldtrip to Seville in my second year – this was a great opportunity to work collaboratively to create and execute our own research project (we looked at street art), and I was able to use my Spanish as well. I also really enjoyed working with Ian Cook on my dissertation – people still laugh when I tell them that my Geography degree was about Horrible Histories!

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I loved how friendly the university is – it’s small enough that you can bump into lots of your friends on a night out, but still large enough that there is plenty to do. I also got to know Devon well with lots trips to the local beaches.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

I’d like to say I thought analytically about my choice of university, but the truth is it was gut instinct. I remember walking around the campus on my first open day and feeling that I had returned home.

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

The level of independence required for university study has definitely supported me through my career – I could have chosen to sit in my student house every day between lectures, or I could take up any number of the opportunities on offer at Exeter. I threw myself into doing new things, from the annual fundraising telethon to the Exeter Award and being an Ambassador giving tours of the campus and external talks.

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

Get as much work experience as you can – I have spent lots of time doing weekend jobs or placements that helped me to figure out the jobs I didn’t want to do… but I think that’s a much more useful lesson that landing on the right one the first time round! Make sure you find out what is involved in a career in teaching or the charity sector – I had preconceptions about both that were shattered once I’d actually spoken to someone about what a ‘normal’ work day actually looks like.

What are your plans for the future?

Who knows? I enjoy working in the charity sector and having a significant impact in my local area, so I’m excited to see where this current role takes me. Equally, I have realised that a large part of my role is consultancy so I would also be interested in pursuing that avenue in the future.

 

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