Emma, Conservation and Engagement Manager, National Trust

  • Photo for Case Study


    History of Art (BA 2011)

    Conservation and Engagement Manager, National Trust

Since leaving Bristol…

In the last term of university I was unsure where I saw myself and my career. Before I came to Bristol I did some volunteering for the National Trust which I enjoyed. I knew that I wanted to be able to use my degree, so started to look at opportunities within the arts and heritage sector. I was fortunate to get a 'House and Collections Internship' at the National Trust property Montacute House. It was a voluntary position so I also got a job working in visitor reception at their neighbouring property, Barrington Court. The internship was a fantastic way to see what is really involved in working at a historic house and also allowed me to work on specific projects. During that time I learnt so much and felt confident that I wanted to have a career with the National Trust. What I realise now is having the second job in visitor reception was very valuable when it came to moving on as I had also been in a visitor facing role.

I knew that I wanted to be a House Steward as my next step after my internship. The role would have a focus on preventative conservation, managing the care of collections and supervising volunteers. It wasn't easy and a few people said that it was too big a jump but after 12 interviews I was offered the position of House Steward at the National Trust property Townend in the Lake District. The position was a part time maternity cover role so was a risk on my part but I realised I had to take risks to move on with my career. After a year my contract was up and, after working for 2 months in a cafe, I was offered the position of House Steward at Anne Hathaway's Cottage which was run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Working for a different heritage organisation was a useful experience and made me more rounded. The role was more operational and at a very busy tourist attraction. I knew that I wanted to return back to the National Trust and was offered the position of Conservation and Engagement Manager at Croft Castle.

In my current job…

As Conservation and Engagement Manager I am the head of department for the house and collections at Croft Castle. I manage the preventative conservation and care of collections within the Castle, as well as managing conservation projects and the cleaning of the showrooms. My role involves managing the house team and volunteers. I am also involved with operational risk, health and safety, emergency planning, emergency salvage, interpretation, engaging visitors with the stories and conservation. My job is very varied and, being open to the public most of the year, time management skills are essential.

The National Trust is a great organisation to work for and i would definitely recommend it; they invest time in you and there is room for progression within all the properties.

I am at a point where I am thinking of becoming a 'House and Collections Manager' at a larger property or 'Visitor Experience Manager'.

Having a UoB degree…

Working in the heritage sector, most jobs ask for you to have a degree in a relevant subject so a degree in History of Art has been really useful and I feel that the reputation of Bristol University has also helped.

I haven't had any help from UoB friends/contacts with getting a job. I feel that it is through my own perseverance and initiative that I have started to progress with my chosen degree.


Get experience wherever you can - not only does it help you get experience in the relevant sector, you also make connections and you never know when these connections might come in handy!

Make sure, especially when it comes to the heritage sector, that you are passionate about the values and the job. It doesn't necessarily pay well, but as long as you love what you are doing then it's a great sector to work in.