The National Trust has advertised for a ‘Cider and Apple Intern’ to ‘volunteer’ for a ‘suggested time commitment’ of 24 hours a week for three months, to help co-ordinate the apple harvest process at a group of its properties in Somerset.

The position is one of the most bizarre we’ve ever seen advertised – and has left us scratching our heads. It sounds like a great opportunity, but why is it an ‘internship’? And if it’s unpaid, is it really open to candidates from all backgrounds? Similarly confused, our friends at Intern Aware have requested a meeting with the National Trust to discuss the opportunity in more detail.

It looks like the issue of unpaid charity internships is now firmly back on the agenda. On Tuesday, a former Oxfam intern told us that some interns are coming in to work at the charity exhausted as they’re working multiple jobs (including evenings and weekends) to fund their unpaid placements. There is growing concern that a loophole in the National Minimum Wage law (originally created to protect genuine volunteering) is being misused by numerous charities as a licence to employ unlimited unpaid staff members, claiming they are ‘voluntary workers’ (who need not be paid by law). But are ‘interns’ true volunteers?And is it a fair system? Clearly, not everyone can afford to work for free – and  increasingly, graduates tell us “You have to be rich to work in charity these days.”

What do you make of this ‘Cider and Apple Intern’ role? Here is the National Trust’s advert in full:

National Trust logo

Cider and Apple Intern

Property: Barrington Court with some involvement at the other properties within the South
Somerset portfolio including Montacute, Tintinhull, Lytes Cary Manor and Glastonbury

Region: South West

Accommodation available?: Shared accommodation will be available at Barrington Court. This will consist of a single bedroom within a shared first floor two bedroom flat.

Hours: 24 hours per week for 3 months from September to December 2014.

Working Pattern: The work pattern can be flexible with days and hours to suit the harvesting programme with a 30minute break for lunch. Some occasional weekend work will be required.

Overview of the role
Somerset is the traditional home of cider! The orchards of South Somerset Portfolio – Barrington, Montacute, Lytes Cary and Tintinhull have been used for the last 7 years to produce cider and apple juice. Apple Day in October is Barrington Court’s celebration of all things Apple. Open to all, we pick, press, identify and sell. We need someone to coordinate all aspects of the event and more importantly, be the central point to discuss volunteering opportunities. This year we need someone to work with the Pommelier to assist with the 2014 harvest of apples and subsequent production of apple juice and cider from the crop to enable you to gain the knowledge to organise the October event. So, not only are you having an apple intensive 3 months, you will also have the opportunity to coordinate and manage a specific event and demonstrate organisational skills to future employers. From working with volunteers, Head Gardeners and Rangers picking the crop to transporting, sampling and delivering this award winning product, you will be part of the tradition!

What’s involved?
Taking responsibility for coordinating Apple Day 2014
Supporting at events, promoting and selling apple juice and cider
Harvesting the crop
Planning the movement of apples to be pressed and bottled for juice
Assisting with the processing and pressing of apples for cider
Working across South Somerset’s orchards with volunteers and staff
Assisting with stock control and distribution to property outlets
Participating in volunteer training and if requested, in the training of other volunteers.
Following National Trust’s Values and Behaviours
Becoming familiar with and then following the National Trust’s Health and Safety Policy at all times
Giving any other appropriate assistance in relation to the project/role as may be reasonably requested

This role will suit people who…

Are physically fit and able to work in a variety of environments
Can demonstrate excellent organisationalskills including time management, planning, use of initiative, attention to detail, team working and flexibility
Have a keen interest in conservation
Have a long term interest in the work of the National Trust and heritage sector
Have a current driving licence
Expenses: Out-of-pocket travel costs between home and volunteering place will be paid, and other
reasonable expenses agreed in advance.

Expenses: Out-of-pocket travel costs between home and volunteering place will be paid, and other
reasonable expenses agreed in advance.

Role Profile (253.50 Kb)
Application Form (125.50 Kb)

To apply, please download and complete the Application Form and email to

Closing date: July 25, 2014

Internship reference code: BY0159
Contact Name: Christine Brain
Contact Email:
Contact Phone Number:01460 243123
Date posted: June 25, 2014

A separate document (the ‘role profile’ linked to above) refers to the role as a “Cider and Apple Juice Internship” and includes this additional information for applicants:

What’s in it for you?

– Becoming part of a friendly and dedicated team
– Enjoying an inspiring and fulfilling experience
– Gaining experience of managing a team of volunteers
– Leaving a lasting legacy and assisting with conservation of the orchards for future generations
– An opportunity to gain an understanding of the work of the Trust
– An opportunity to develop skills that will be of value to you through your career development

Suggested time commitment: 24 hours per week

The work pattern can be flexible with days and hours to suit the harvesting programme with a 30minute break for lunch. Some occasional weekend work will be required.

Suggested length of internship: Three months from September to December 2014.

What is a National Trust Internship?
This is an opportunity for people looking to gain work experience across different areas of work within the Trust. The internship will be attached to a particular project or area of work, and will give you the opportunity to develop your skills and experience in this area. The Trust has a commitment to support the personal development of individuals who volunteer with us through the internship programme, recognising the importance of work experience to future career development.

And a warning that:

This role is purely voluntary and this arrangement is not meant to be a legally binding one or an employment contract.

Here is Intern Aware’s letter to the National Trust:

Intern Aware to National Trust

If you’re trying to start a career in charity, would you consider taking this role? Why do you think it’s been labelled an ‘internship’? Do you think it should be a paid position? Or is it genuine volunteering? Have your say below!

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