Our brilliant Operations Officer Apprentice, Kornelija Zilinskaite is celebrating two years at Creswell Crags this week. So we thought we’d mark the occasion by asking her to write a blog post about her time with us and her apprenticeship – and to share a bit more about herself. Here it is, in her own words:

Hi, my name is Kornelija Zilinskaite, born in a beautiful city in Lithuania, Panevezys, where most of my family and childhood friends are from. I have always been fascinated by other countries, cultures, and ways of life. When I was 10, my family moved countries, here to England, and settled in Nottingham as our new forever home, where I was raised and lived ever since.

Image of a city in Lithuania. There is a wide blue lake surrounded by trees and buildings

Panevezys, Lithuania

My journey with Creswell Crags started in October 2018, so I’ve now been here two years! I am currently the Operations Officer here at the Crags, working as an apprentice whilst studying for a degree in Business Management and Leadership, with only a few months left till my end point assessment and graduation. With no history of higher education in my family, I have always wanted to be the one who breaks the cycle, so here I am. My long-term career goal has always been to be a successful business owner, however I’ve always lacked ideas on what industry that will be in: continuing with further education to find my passion and grow my knowledge in management were my main goals when searching for an apprenticeship.

It is very difficult to describe my typical day at work, as no day in the same, however every day is a new learning experience, which is perfect for my development. As an Operations Officer, my role is to recognise and implement Creswell Crag’s business objectives, and this includes promoting efficiency and increasing profitability. Meanwhile, as an apprentice, my role is to learn and develop, and use my knowledge to support to growth of all aspects of the business. One day I am working with budgets for my department. On the same day, I can be outside managing the car park.  The next day I could be being part of discovering the largest collection of Witch Marks in the UK in one of the caves, and the news going international! Like I said, no day is the same!

A cave wall is illuminated by candle light. You can see two people in profile looking at the wall, in the shadows

Discovering the early modern Witch Marks in Robin Hood Cave

It did not take me long to fall in love with Creswell Crags, a museum surrounded by so much nature and history that reminded me of my homeland, Lithuania, and although it doesn’t quite feel like home, it does have a special place is my heart. Some of my duties consist of ‘office work’, however outside of my office window, is 26 acres of land that require a lot of attention and maintenance, which is also part of my duties working in operations.  I like interacting with people, especially members of the public, so my least favourite part about working at Creswell Crags is the quiet days, especially our restricted opening season (November to January) when we’re only open to the public on weekends. The biggest challenge I have faced whilst working as an apprentice, as I am sure anybody who is over 18 and doing an apprenticeship would also agree, is the wage in the first year. When I started, the minimum wage for my age bracket was £3.70 an hour, and traveling to a rural location (at the time, an hour’s drive for me from Nottingham) and balancing that to cover costs was a challenge. But I must say, I just looked at the bigger picture and knew that it will all be worth it in the end, with all the support the Creswell Crags team have given me.

Three women in Victorian clothes look at the camera

Kornelija (centre) with Front of House staff Megan and Ann, at a Victorian event in 2019

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned whilst working for this small independent charity, is how great it is to find your passion, and what a difference it makes to people when they’re working in a job that they love. In a growing and changing organisation like Creswell Crags, there is a lot of space for ideas, improvements, and discoveries to be made. This is the first team I have been part of that are all equally passionate about their work and want to see this business thrive in all the best ways. My Operations Officer apprenticeship role has allowed me to grow as an individual, as a team player and as a team leader. Gaining so much knowledge already from the course, I have had the opportunity and freedom to apply this in my workplace, supporting business growth.

Although it hasn’t always been easy, it was the best decision I have made for my career so far, and would definitely recommend other people to search for an apprenticeship with a business you can see yourself growing and blossoming in!

Two young women smile at the camera. One is dressed as a prehistoric cave dweller, in fur. They are in a cave.

Kornelija (left) and Heritage Facilitator, Lucy, during a Christmas event in 2019.