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Internship: Maryland Horse Foundation

ErinSwopeMy name is Erin Swope, a December 2020 graduate from Towson University’s College of Business
and Economics. I have been involved in Maryland’s horse industry from a very young age, having grown up on a horse farm. I was heavily involved in fox chasing and steeplechase racing since my dad also rode in the races, and he had me starting in the hunt field when I was just 5 years old. Over the past 4 years, I have worked at Pimlico Race Course as an exercise rider for Mary Eppler, which has allowed me to pay for my college. Towson requires all of their business students to complete an
internship as a graduation requirement, and I was having a difficult time finding one due to COVID-19. Luckily, I talked to Bobby Lillis and asked him if he knew of anywhere that was taking interns and he suggested that I call the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. I contacted Jordyn and was incredibly fortunate that I was able to intern with the Maryland Horse Foundation. I had an incredible experience and learned so many skills that I will be able to carry with me into any new position.

Through this experience, I was able to work on various projects that taught me many important skills. One of the main projects that I worked on was helping to organize the online silent auction leading up to Maryland Million Day. I was involved in this project from start to finish as I helped contact potential item donors, determine what items would be included, write the descriptions for the items, organize all of the items on the online platform, and help oversee the actual running of the auction. Throughout this process I gained communication skills as I connected with donors and worked with Jordyn; teamwork skills from working with people in every department of the organization; technology skills from learning how to operate the new online platform. These skills are crucial for any job at any company and it is a huge benefit for me to have gained these skills throughout my time spent with the Maryland Horse Foundation.

I also had the privilege of learning about the different operations of the organization from all of the different departments of the office. I was able to learn about communications and how the organization uses social media to help spread awareness of their events and gain awareness of the Maryland horse industry. I was able to learn about the publication of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine, since it is run out of the same office. I was even able to learn a lot about the industry’s history by flipping through the Maryland Horse magazine archives and going through the online collection. I also sat in on meetings and conference calls and learned about the Maryland-Bred and Maryland Sired programs as I helped register horses. I was able to gain an understanding of each person’s role in the office and how they are all interrelated.

As someone who has never worked in an office setting, this was such a great learning experience for me and I am so lucky to have been able to learn from the nicest, most knowledgeable and professional people. Everyone that I worked with was so kind and welcoming and I looked forward to going to the office. I have seen the horse industry from the hands-on side of working with the horses, but it was so interesting for me to experience what the office side is like. This experience allowed me to apply all of the skills I learned at Towson and be exposed to all different areas of the organization. I gained a greater sense of professionalism as well as a better sense of direction of what I want to do as a career. Interning with the Maryland Horse Foundation allowed me to make many new connections that will help me in my job search now that I have my bachelor’s degree. This internship was the perfect internship experience for me because it allowed me to learn about the business aspect of running an organization, while also being able to work in an area I’m interested in. I would highly recommend any student to intern with the Maryland Horse Foundation. It was an incredible experience that taught me so much and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.