Equine Careers Day at Enniskillen Campus
February 26, 2021
Careers Day at CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus is always a highlight in the academic calendar, for both students and industry representatives alike. This year, due to the challenges presented by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Careers Day was different from the norm. With nationwide lockdowns in place and the ‘Stay at Home’ message at the forefront, Careers Day was delivered online and became a new experience for all involved. The usual networking opportunities with the industry exhibitors took on a new form and everyone embraced this, taking it in their stride.
The day began with Councillor Diana Armstrong, Chair of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council welcoming both students and industry representatives to the first virtual Careers Day. She talked of how proud she was to have CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus within her district area.
An opening overview of the day was provided by Head of Equine, Seamus McAlinney, before the students and industry representatives moved to virtual breakout rooms for talks from a variety of businesses. There were thirteen businesses present, ranging from Horse Sport Ireland to the Army and Household Cavalry, from Bluegrass Horse Feeds to Godolphin. Students chose different talks to attend based on their interests and asked questions to the industry representatives at the end of each session, with excellent engagement from the students.
The afternoon session was opened by Mr James O’Boyle, CAFRE Head of Education Service before moving to the panel discussion. The panel discussion was chaired by Mr Leo Powell, Managing Editor of the Irish Field, who led an interesting and meaningful discussion with each of the panellists. The panel had an international feel this year, one of the benefits of being carried out virtually, with panellists joining from Kentucky, USA and Shropshire as well as some more local businesses too. Mr Tullis Matson (Stallion AI Services, Shropshire), Ms Orlagh O’Reilly (former CAFRE student and UCD Equine Researcher), Mr Robert Patton (Old Mill Saddlery, Larne), Dr Julie Vargas (Vet, Spy Coast Farms Rehabilitation Centre, Kentucky) and Ms Alicia Bradshaw (Manager of the Rehabilitation Centre, Spy Coast Farm, Kentucky) provided great insight into the different areas of the equine industry that they work with and certainly gave students a lot to think about for their future careers. The main theme of the panel discussion was to work hard and take any opportunities available to you. Mr Tullis Matson had talked of the barriers of dyslexia which he faced at the start of his career, telling students that dyslexia is not something to shy away from, it is something to embrace and can mean students think ‘outside the box’.
Luke Norton, final year Degree student from Co. Longford stated, “I really found the wide variety of industry representatives who were present on the day beneficial. From a student perspective, it gives us an idea of all of the opportunities that are available to us. The fact that we could have conversations with people on the other side of the world proved the point that even in these uncertain times, we can still form amazing contacts through a digital manner, massively benefiting our future careers.”
The panel discussion was followed by the distribution of sixteen student bursaries, again with a different approach on this occasion. Bursary providers and recipients provided short video clips, announcing the successful recipients and the students thanking the bursary providers and giving some insight into how the bursary would be used within their studies. CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus is very proud to work with each of the bursary providers and is so grateful for their continued support in these challenging times that so many businesses are facing.
Following distribution of student bursaries, Mr Joe Osborne, Managing Director of Godolphin Ireland, addressed the students and guests with a feeling of hope and progression for the future. One statement from his insightful talk stood out in particular, “These are difficult times, and they are also revolutionary times. The worlds of study and of work have changed in ways none of us could have imagined a couple of years ago. It’s a revolution and the survivors are the winners. You and your generation are not just adapting to change, you are leading it.”
The event was rounded off with closing remarks by CAFRE Director, Mr Martin McKendry and a vote of thanks led by final year student Hannah Alonso-O’Friel (Madrid, Spain) who also won the Danske Bank Bursary for Business Management.
Final year BSc (Honours) in Equine Management Degree student Cora Maguire (Omagh) stated, “The careers day was a very informative day, I found the separate rooms useful as it gave a more one to one approach with people working in the industry and gave me the opportunity to ask questions. Talking to the industry representatives gave me great insight and inspired me to hopefully pursue a successful career within the Thoroughbred and racing industry.”
CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus would once again like to express their gratitude to the equine businesses and bursary providers for their ongoing support, giving students insight and opportunities to further their careers within a vibrant and ever expanding industry. This may have been the first experience of a virtual careers event for Enniskillen Campus, but we are certain that it will not be our last.