Episode 10: Equine Career Network
In this episode, we talked to Kelsey Sullivan and Kaitlyn Zaleski, the founders of Equine Career Network, a website that connects job seekers, employers and entrepreneurs in the equine industry. The site focuses on careers with horse-related companies and organizations, rather than "at the barn" jobs such as training, breeding or barn management.
Both Kelsey and Kaitlyn have backgrounds with horses, and they leverage their professional skills to help others in the equine industry achieve success. We were excited to get to know them, and chat about navigating equine careers outside the barn.
> Tell us a bit about your background with horses?
Both rode extensively as youth riders, with experience ranging from hunter-jumper to dressage, and Western pleasure and reining. Kaitlyn also competed on the collegiate IHSA team.
The two met through a horse sale when they were in their early teens.
> What about your professional experiences?
Kaitlyn - Following college, she interned at McQuay Ranch as a breeding intern before moving to a position at SmartPak with its customer service team in Massachusetts. She moved to different marketing positions with SmartPak that helped expose her to horse events and disciplines across the country. Today, she works in California for Vets First Choice, an online platform for pharmacies.
Kelsey - Her degree was in human studies and she did quite a bit of interactive media during trips. After completing a master’s program in interactive media, she took her photography/digital media skills to a marketing position with a then-local and organic produce delivery company. From there, she started her own company, which led to a move to Florida. Throughout her teens, Kelsey created websites and managed her own successful equine photography company. With these skills, she was able to start ECN with Kaitlyn. Today, she works for a company in a marketing position she found on her site, Equine Career Network! Kaitlyn still creates projects freelance while managing her full-time gig.
Both have full-time jobs and also invest their time in the Equine Career Network.
> Let's talk about Equine Career Network. What was the inspiration behind starting it?
Finding internships or jobs in the equine industry was challenging. They want to make the jobs in the equine industry more readily available for people around the country so they can grow their careers. In addition, the two have always wanted to work on a project together.
The lack of knowledge out there [about jobs] is a detriment to the industry. In turn, the industry is losing a lot of valuable knowledge and potential workers. The goal is to strengthen the equine industry and attract others to the industry through shared opportunities.
> How are you finding the jobs for the site, and how did you go about creating the site?
The two merged ideas, needs to address and provided quality, easily-consumed content. The user experience is paramount!
> How does it help equine professionals?
Site users fall into three categories:
1. Student/Job seeker – number one focus for the site. Job seekers can navigate to the job list as well as the blog.
2. Employers – Offer all the postings for free. Service to employers.
3. College advisors and professors – Want the site to drive advisors to send job seekers to the site.
The site’s goal is to be the number one resource for jobs in the equine industry.
> What is the criteria for posting a job to the site?
Really want to focus on all jobs, including “out of the barn” positions. Internships are allowed. All job postings are vetted, sometimes edited, and details are checked for accuracy.
> Do you have any advice for someone wanting to break into the equine industry--but not as a trainer, veterinarian, breeder, etc?
Kaitlyn – “I have a lot of advice, but here’s one thing: Don’t be afraid to move!”
She moved from Texas to Massachusetts to California. It can be a risk, but a move can bring you to where the horse industry thrives.
Kelsey – “First, I would say go to EquineCareerNetwork.com and look for your job! My advice would be to develop relationships, network and meet people.”
Connections can help job seekers move through this small industry. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
> Do any of the job postings feature freelance jobs?
Yes, there is an entire category! Freelance opportunities can be valuable to building a career.
Full-time position are the most popular category.
> How can we find you both online?
About The Freelance Remuda
The Freelance Remuda is a podcast about navigating the equine media frontier. Co-hosted by seasoned freelance professionals Abigail Boatwright and Kate Bradley Byars, the podcast explores the trials and triumphs surrounding life as a freelancer in equine media, while sharing valuable tips from equine media editors and creatives doing what they love. Find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.