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Our Future – John Wigham

Graduate Rural Surveyor

– Tell us about your career path

“My family have had a beef and sheep farm for three generations. I loved growing up on the farm and I think outdoor education is the best you can have. I really wanted a career which runs parallel to farming so being a rural surveyor works really well. There are lots of things I learn in work that I can take back home, and I really enjoy it.

“I studied rural studies at Newcastle a Bsc degree. It was a really good course, but it wasn’t accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) so I’m working towards being chartered which will take about two years. I’m currently doing a level six master’s apprenticeship at Harper Adams, part-time over two years with six modules a year. After that I should be able to sit my APC which is an assessment of professional competence so there's quite a few hurdles to jump towards the end goal.”

– What’s your top tip for anyone wanting a job like yours?

“I’d definitely look for good apprenticeships. Companies like mine are really starting to invest a lot more in young people and support them from the start so there are some really good apprenticeships out there. I loved uni but I didn’t know about apprenticeships and it’s something I would have considered if I knew opportunities like this were available.”

– Why did you leave Cumbria?

“At the time I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be in my future career, but I knew I wanted to go to university. Rural studies was a broad subject and it was down the agricultural route, but it involved a lot of different parts of the sector, so it was good all round career choice and I was able to study at a really good, Russel group university.”

– What brought you back?

“I went to work on a banana farm in Zambia for four months and it was incredible. But at the end of the day, I just missed sitting in front of a log fire with my collie, eating steak pie and the home comforts, just some simple stuff like that. I missed home and the farm and being able to drive to the Lakes, to Scotland wherever as you’re kind of in the heart of UK. You can go off for a city weekend if you want with an easy train journey or wherever you want easily. Plus, Cumbria’s cheap, the people are friendly, and I don’t feel out my depth here.”

– What’s your advice to anyone thinking about whether they should leave or stay in Cumbria?
  • “A great night out: Lots of people my age often go down to London. I've got mates in London, Manchester, Australia at the minute. And you see they're out every night having a good time but we can do the same here from a local pub to the city bars.
  • We have a great community: Lot of people come back to Cumbria because they just miss how small and friendly it is. I meet people who’ve lived down south who moving up here for a nice sense of community and belonging. I think that puts it into perspective and I appreciate the choices I’ve made to stay in the county.
  • Exciting times ahead: There’s so much investment in Cumbria it’s a really exciting time. The new university campus, the Southern Link Road and other projects that will attract new business and money into the county. I think in the next 20 years, there could be big changes. And then on top of that, you've still got all the natural beauty surrounding that. I think it's an exciting time.
  • Work life balance: I’m quite busy working and studying but in my free time I can go to the Lakes, walk a Wainwright, head into the forest, wherever. There’s so much on your doorstep in Cumbria.”

Back to Young People: Careers in Cumbria

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