Four jobs you probably didn’t know existed

“So, what do you do?”

Everyone’s favourite party conversation starter! It’s fair to say most of us will at least have heard of the jobs mentioned by our fellow party guests. As part of our Bitesize world of work series, we interviewed four people whose answer, we imagine, is probably met with wide-eyed amazement.

1. “I’m a volcano explorer”

Have you ever looked at footage of an erupting volcano and thought: “How I would love to explore that!”? Nope? Meet Chris, a twenty-five-year-old volcano guide and vlogger. Among other things, his job involves climbing inside volcanoes, documenting his experiences and helping film crews access volcanoes safely.

“It’s amazing to stand next to a lava lake, look around you and see all the different layers of volcanic activity,” says Chris.

“What I’m seeing in front of me is a boiling pot of molten magma, and around me is its solid form.”

At school, Chris had a passion for Geography and Science. He then started travelling and I went to more and more extreme places, which led him to a volcano in the South Pacific. The rest, as they say, is history.

Chris absolutely loves his job, and says it’s “probably one of the best jobs in the world. But it is a risky job.”

“The extremely corrosive environment we face up there destroys our equipment in matter of days.”

So you’ve heard it from the expert: don’t try this at home!

2. “I’m a globe maker”

If just the thought of being near an erupting volcano terrifies you, you might find the next job a bit more soothing. Eddy, 25, is a globe maker at a company making globes completely by hand from start to finish. Eddy found his current employer on social media, while looking for creative career inspiration.

“I spend my days cutting segments of map, which we call gores, and then applying them onto a sphere, making sure that it's nice and smooth and that everything aligns,” explains Eddy, who trained for six months to make his first globe.

Many people work together to make a globe, from the cartographers who make the map to the woodworkers who create the bases the globe will sit on.

“Working on such a small version of the world demonstrates how truly large it really is,” reflects Eddy.

3. “I'm a space inventor"

And now, from globes representing planets to space itself. At university, aerospace engineering student Ben got involved in a project to launch a rocket into space. That, in itself, is pretty cool, but the story goes on.

Ben wondered whether the knowledge of launching big rockets could be applied to launching smaller-scale rockets from balloons, which led him to co-found a business looking at just that. His company aims to use small rockets thrust by balloons to carry small satellites out of the atmosphere – sort of like a delivery service, but in space!

"At first people don’t believe me – they think I’m joking," says Ben. But once he's had a chance to show them his company's website and pictures of the engineering he does, they "suddenly start to switch on and they think I’m a brainiac from The Big Bang Theory and that we do a lot of rocket science."

Ben mentions meeting people who do similar things, as well as getting to speak to the relevant agencies like the UK Space and European Space Agencies, as some of his favourite parts of the job. But the real thing?

"When experiments work and the rocket comes back."

4. “I’m a heritage paper maker”

If space deliveries sound a bit too sci-fi, here's something a bit more old-school. Twenty-year-old Zoe is an apprentice heritage paper maker, specialising in watercolour paper for artists.

While industrial paper makers typically use wood pulp, Zoe works in a mill where paper is made by hand, using cotton pulp. This involves beating cotton and linen flax, as well as other fibres, in water from the mill’s own well, for up to four hours. The paper goes through a series of processes, after which each individual sheet is hung to dry.

Cotton paper is very strong, which is why many artists prefer it, as it makes their work more durable.

Reviews from happy customers mean a lot to Zoe: “Just hearing that about things that I make with my own hands and send off to other people, it is so rewarding.”

“From a very young age we tend to make things with our own hands but when we grow up, it really tends to be the case that we get pushed out of that,” says Zoe, who is delighted to be able to do something like this for a living.

“I haven’t been any happier in my entire life.”

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