Never stop learning!
When I decided to go to sea, I knew I wanted to be a deck officer; there was never any question of being an engineer (although I do like learning about that side of things). I’ve always liked the travel aspect of the job, as well as the skills and one day being different to the next. I didn’t fancy the idea of working ‘nine to five’. It’s a job where hard work can see you rise relatively quickly throughout the ranks.I can certainly say that my life has been more interesting since I came to sea.
What were your thoughts when you first went to sea?
I was excited when I joined my first vessel, but after the first few days I felt a little overwhelmed. There was so much to learn on the bridge and on deck. It took me a few weeks to prioritise my learning. Eventually, I found my stride. It eventually sinks in that you are on your way to becoming an officer. Overall, I found the experience exciting. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell everyone what I’d been up to. A lot happens during a four-month trip.
What do you like best about working at sea?
This might sound like a cliché, but the best thing is that every day is different. It is never boring. There is always a new skill to learn or a new challenge to overcome. You plan as much as you can, but there are always changes. Dealing with problems and overcoming obstacles can be tremendously satisfying, especially as your experience grows. Time off is nice, but I always look forward to going back to sea. You quickly become as comfortable at sea as you are at home.
How do you keep up with building on your training and skills, both at sea and ashore?
As a junior officer, I’ve found that you never stop learning. New technologies are constantly evolving alongside traditional skills. A lot of the time you don’t even notice that you’re improving your competencies. It’s not until you have a bit of experience that you can look back at yourself a year or two ago and realise how far you’ve come. Through reading and teaching from more experienced officers, as well as courses ashore, I keep on top of my professional development. It goes without saying that you need to take advantage of every opportunity for training that presents itself.
How could the shipping industry better support mariners in building on their competencies?
Where practicality allows, I would like to see more online training available to seafarers. It already exists in many companies. Distance learning or online learning and certification have obvious advantages to seafarers. Many don’t necessarily like having to attend courses when they are home and prefer to include training as part of their daily work schedule. There are still many ships that don’t have the internet or the resources onboard to cater to this, although I understand this is improving all the time.
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