Five Tips to Thriving as a Working Student

Seija Samoylenko is a young rider from Boston, Massachusetts. She enjoys competing her mare, (the) Black Russian, and homebred, Forte EDF in Areas I, II and III. For more about Seija, follow her on Instagram @seijasameq. Interested in trying your own working student position? Check this one out.

You’ll get to see many sunrises and sunsets as a working student, trust me.

You’ll get to see many sunrises and sunsets as a working student, trust me.

I spent time as a working student for three months between college semesters when I was 18 and recently got back into working student life for a three-week trial over winter break as a soon-to-be college graduate. For anyone thinking about being a working student, here are my five perhaps not-so-common tips I have for not only surviving but thriving in this crazy lifestyle.

1. Before you start a job, get as clear as possible about what your duties are and what the arrangement of your position is. Do you ride your own horse during work hours or after? How many lessons do you get per week? Are they private? Is there a dress code on the farm? Get all of the terms of your position in writing. If terms change one day, get that in writing too. It will make your employer happy to know that you are taking your job seriously, and it will alleviate most confusion that could arise down the road.

2. Ask as many questions as possible. Just because you were taught one way or Pony Club taught you another, every rider and groom has their own way certain things are done. One example is that some people like you to wash manes the day they are braided and others would never allow that. Try to ask questions even if they seem obvious. Have people show you how they like it to be done. Don’t be afraid of appearing stupid, because you’ll still end up doing millions of stupid things no matter what. Ask again if necessary. Just try to not ask too many times because that means you’re probably not paying attention.

3. Even if you ‘finish’ all the jobs, there is always something else you can do. I’ve definitely awarded myself with some self-congratulatory phone time for finishing whatever jobs I was supposed to do. Undoubtedly, there is always something else to do depending on the operation. Here are some ideas: checking waters, picking stalls, raking the barnyard, general tidying up, checking the laundry and sweeping. This is not busy work — it will make your life easier in the future. P.S. Along those lines, try to not walk anywhere empty-handed.

4. Most of the time you won’t be given that much time to eat on your butt, so pack (healthy) snacks and make food ahead of time. Stock up on (healthy, I love Amy’s) frozen meals/pizzas. Make sandwiches and salads ahead of time. Food prep your meals on your days off. Lay off the junk food. Drink water. Go to sleep early. No one is there to take care of you other than you. So take care of yourself; you’ll feel good and get so much more out of your experience.

5. Speaking of days off, use them to your advantage. Ride your horse early or late if you need to, so you have some time to focus on just you and your horse. Shower for a long time (and then use lotion and perfume). Wear normal human clothes even if you don’t think your going anywhere. Do your laundry. Wash the dishes in the sink even if they aren’t yours. Bring Starbucks/Dunkins to your coworkers that are probably slaving away because you’re not. Your future, tired self will thank you for not just watching six hours of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (even though that’s totally ok to do — just get the big stuff done first).