Working Student Question & Answer with Gaby Ruane
How do you find working student job openings?
I believe that finding the best working student positions often comes from word of mouth. You might already have a friend who is a working student, and he or she can recommend you to their boss, or perhaps your current coach reaches out to one of their trusted contacts on your behalf. In many cases, you might make the transition from student/client to working student at your current barn. If you are new to the sport, unsure of where to start, or are wanting to try something new in a different discipline, it is probably easier to look at job specific websites. Yard and Groom (yardandgroom.com) has many listings, and for eventers, Eventing Nation/Sport Horse Nation is a good place to start (eventingnation.com/sporthorsenation). Beyond that, there are Facebook groups dedicated to equestrian jobs, and many of them post working student listings frequently.
Do you call or email the potential employer? If you email, what does your email entail?
I would call the potential employer, if possible. First impressions are important, and it is easier to make yourself stand out initially by speaking over the phone, rather than via email. Once you make the initial phone call, follow up with a detailed email.
In the email, I would include:
– Why I want the job
– My experience with horses (competition and otherwise), and my own horses experience if bringing him/her along is an option
– My goals I would like to accomplish during my time there
– Any questions I may have about the position. Hours? Accommodation? Financial obligations (do I need to pay coaching, board, trailering, etcetera)? Minimum commitment?
– A current resume. If you don’t have one, now is a good time to create one!
– Anything else I think my potential employer would like (or need) to know
Don’t forget to add your contact information and when they can reach you, if they need to. Be professional, polite, and triple check for spelling or wording errors!
How do you prepare for the interview? (What do you wear? Do you bring a resume? Do you research about the barn beforehand?)
Show up for your interview looking presentable. Wear clean, barn appropriate clothing and footwear. First impressions are important. If you show up looking like you take pride in your appearance, that speaks volumes!
You can never go wrong having your resume on hand. Chances are, your potential employer will ask for it, so come prepared.
Do your research on the barn. Can you find photos of it online? You will feel more prepared if you are able to get a picture in your head of what the barn looks like, and it will be easier to imagine yourself working there, too! Watch videos of your potential employer teaching and riding, if possible. This will help you get a feel for if their program is right for you.
What are your tips on interviewing well?
Be honest about your abilities and strengths, as well as your weaknesses. You are applying for a job as a student; they will not expect you to know everything! Make sure to be friendly and courteous, and answer their questions with enthusiasm. Be confident! Show them that you want the job and are willing to learn. Ask your own questions, too. State your goals and ask how you can achieve (or work toward achieving) them during your stay.
How do you make yourself stand out against the other candidates?
Don’t try too hard. In an ideal world, you would let your experience speak for you. If you aren’t confident in that alone, be sure to emphasize your willingness to learn. Show up confident and well informed on the position you are applying for, ask intelligent questions, and show them that you would be an asset to their team. Don’t give them a reason to keep looking!